Questions, Comments and Concerns: Dirty Dancing (2017)

Dirty Dancing was the coolest, most grown-up movie when I was eight years old and it was an entirely different movie. The 1987 film was a mainstay of sleepovers and cable tv throughout my ’90s childhood, and it’s where I learned about family summer camps, partner dancing and I guess also abortion. [Traci saw it for the first time as an adult – read her pop culture blind spot post here.] Thirty years (? and also !) have passed since the release of the original Dirty Dancing. Since then we’ve been treated to 2004 sequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, a stage musical that I saw only because it was part of my season package, and now ABC’s TV movie treatment. The 2017 version of Dirty Dancing loosely adapts the original screenplay, makes it a musical – sort of – and stars Abigail Breslin as Baby, Sarah Hyland as Lisa, Debra Messing as mom Marjorie (in what I can only assume is a bid to make us feel even older than we did when we realized Dirty Dancing was 30), Colt Prattes as Johnny and Nicole Scherzinger as Penny, among others. I wanted to like it a bit, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea.

Question: Does this meta-Dirty Dancing framing device serve any purpose?

Dirty Dancing (1987) is the story of a young woman going to family summer camp in 1963 to learn about dancing and herself.

Dirty Dancing (2017) is the story of a 30-something woman going to a stage musical in 1975, of a movie that in the actual universe was released in 1987 (but don’t worry, the 1975 musical still has INCREDIBLY ’80s-looking posters),  which is the story of the time she went to family summer camp in 1963 to learn about dancing and herself.

Maybe ABC just wanted to show off their green screen technology:

Places I’ve seen a more accurate depiction of a person standing on a street in NYC:

(1) New York, New York in Las Vegas

(2) Epcot

(3) Sesame Street

(4) snowglobes

Comment: Baby is an early adopter of Betty Friedan-era feminism

Neither a question nor a concern, just mentioning that the first dialogue is a convo about The Feminine Mystique for whatever reason.

Concern: A costume designer hates Abigail Breslin, a cute young lady

Or is completely unable to tailor clothing to a non-hanger-shaped human. Not sure which would be worse. Two more inches and some work on the darts, PLEASE.

Comment: At least Baby still has anachronistic hair

One of my tv/film pet peeves is anachronistic hair in period films. It was especially prevalent in films of the 1950s to 1980s, but even in this 2017 version Baby has hair that would’ve looked positively nutty in the early ’60s. Still not as bad as Jennifer Gray’s ’80s perm.

See also: Jennifer Gray’s 80s-style jean shorts, crop top, keds combo.

 

Question: How many former So You Think You Can Dance contestants do you think are in the Den Of Vice where the employees go to sing and dance after-hours?

They do a good job.

Comment: Baby looking bemused while wearing Wendy Darling’s nightgown is my vibe during this whole movie.
Question: Honey, what’s this, what’s happening, what’s going on here?

A word on fashions of the late ’50s and early ’60s. Foundation garments were still a THING and ’50s-’60s silhouettes are immensely flattering on ladies with boobs, butts, etc. because the waist is emphasized. These ill-fitting costumes without a proper foundation are just all wrong – even if a fashion-clueless teenager might have looked dowdy by accident, there’s no real need to do that here. Making such an adorable girl dress like my grandma after she gave birth to her fifth child in 1960 ought to be a crime.

Concern: Everyone is really crabby at Baby. Constantly.

Baby: I’ll pay for your abortion.

Johnny: Literally buzz off forever, Baby.

Comment: White struggle: learning to move/clap on the twos and the fours.
Comment: What gets me is, I KNOW Abigail Breslin can sell a dance number.

While I’m watching the classic log scene, I’m blown away by how stilted the dance sequences are, and not just in a “Baby’s just learning to dance” way. I don’t know what to blame – the choreography, the direction, the chemistry – but I stop short of blaming Abigail Breslin because we all remember how she totally sold that iconic dance scene in Little Miss Sunshine.

Question: Is anyone watching Dirty Dancing for middle-aged parents coping with a stilted, loveless marriage?

Doesn’t matter. That’s what you’re getting.

Comment: The scene with Penny and Baby dancing is kind of cute.

The Penny/Baby friendship chemistry is a hundred times better than the Johnny/Baby romantic chemistry. Then they start singing, which is a thing that happens in this production. It’s fine. Oldies, not original songs, which is the way to go I think.

Concern: I have to wait for the end of Johnny and Baby’s mambo performance to find out if it was supposed to have gone well or not.

The audience cheers.

No lift, though.

Started on the two.

Success?

Question: Why was Johnny in prison?

I mean, Johnny was in prison for car stuff. But WHY, you know?

Comment: White struggle #2: Having to leave family camp early.

Not my particular struggle (the idea of my parents ever spending money on something like a family resort-camp is laughable), but presented like it’s a very real tragedy here. Debra Messing pointedly sings They Can’t Take That Away From Me, which is how women in 1963 showed their emotions when their vacation and marriage was about to be cut short.

Concern: Is Debra Messing’s lawyer in her rolodex?

Marjorie wants a divorce and says “I called my lawyer” (and also “I’d rather be alone than lonely”), which causes me to hop on the memory train and get off in the era before cell phones and internet. She either had her lawyer’s number written down or memorized, or the main office had a yellow pages for her home region. Then she either had to use the office phone or a pay phone. Which is all to say that she wants this divorce hard.

Concern: Talk-singing.
Comment: Baby has to tell her whole family she slept with Johnny in order to absolve him of stealing a watch.

And THAT is why you don’t go to summer camp with your family.

Question: Could the costume designer be trolling us?

All of the ’60s styles that would look gorgeous on Abigail and they do this:

Comment: The last half hour of the movie.

Hulu keeps freezing, but I caught the last hour on live TV so we’re good.

The parents aren’t getting divorced because the dad sings the same song the mom did earlier, which is the magic formula to undo divorce feelings.

Debra Messing gets a nice dress. Abigail Breslin gets a better dress than before.

Sarah Hyland learns how to play ukulele and instead of the fun warbling off-key song from the original, we are treated to her singing Bob Dylan. Yes, just a week or so at Kellerman’s and she’s a Betty Friedan-reading, Dylan-listening folk singer with an interracial love interest. As Hairspray – another ’80s flick set in the ’60s with a (better) 2000s remake – would say, Welcome To The 60s. (Marco, Lisa’s friend who teaches her about ukulele and probably love, is cute and charming, played by newcomer J. Quinton Johnson. I like him. And Don’t Think Twice (It’s Alright) Is probably one of my top 10 Dylan songs, anyway.)

The less said about the closing song, the better. I’m just going to say this: the spoken phrase “I had the time of my life” segues into the sung phrase “I had the time of my life.”

Concern: Oh. This framing device, again.

We’re back in 1975. A baby-faced 30-year-old Baby leaves Dirty Dancing, the smash 1970s musical, and runs into Johnny, who stars in it? Directs it? Choreographed it? The musical is based on her book. Their romance belongs to the past, just like the last three hours of our lives. Baby has a husband and young daughter (who really does resemble young Abigail Breslin) who is probably way under the target demo to be watching Dirty Dancing or to care about her mother’s coming-of-age summer. Baby FINALLY has makeup, hair and clothing that suits her. I kind of wish they went full This Is Us and set the bookends in the present day with Abigail Breslin aged up to 70 years old, watching this telefilm from her living room as a grandchild distractedly live-tweets it. Now THAT is an unnecessary framing device I could get into.

 

Confusion, Boredom, Disgust: Faces Of Adults At The Teen Choice Awards

A lot of things stood between me and the Teen Choice Awards. Mainly adulthood, which meant I was watching full of questions: why was everyone screaming so much? Who were these people? Why are some people wearing shorts and others wearing semi-formalwear? Another problem was my rip-roaring “Sunday night in my late 20s” schedule – how would I fold laundry, take a shower, dust the downstairs, do crunches AND eat half a box of Kashi sea salt crackers while watching this mess?

So I may not have watched the entire show, but I was heartened by the solidarity  I felt with the non-teens in the audience, whose faces betrayed them: their choice was to be anywhere but at these awards.

Josh Peck, a 28-year-old, exhorted the children in the audience to look up from their phones. When Josh Peck and I were teens (shoutout to the 1986 babies!) the only reason you’d be looking down at your phone is if you were in the middle of a particularly long game of Snake.

Scott Earnestwood, an adult man, is perplexed. Our face exactly, Scott.

John Stamos, a famous uncle, gives side-eye to his younger self – something I often do figuratively but never IRL.

Sarah Hyland, who can vote and drink in all 50 states, tripped… then dropped an f-bomb, because she’s an adult and she can.

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi, a married couple, celebrated their seven-year anniversary at the Teen Choice Awards … because see, when you’re a full-fledged grown-up you get stuck doing work stuff on your birthday or anniversary a lot of the time.

Britney Spears, a mom, brought her cute kids and niece along because “mom, we don’t HAVE a bedtime on summer vacation” and also because her sons are now closer in age to Baby One More Time-era Britney than Britney is.

Nina Dobrev, former teen/ current 26-year-old, delivered a big “see ya later, suckers!” to the teen vampire genre.

And finally, Gabourey Sidibe, not a girl not yet a woman, decided to just go with it:

Emmy Awards 2014: Best & Worst Dressed

Day 2 of our Back to TV Week, and we’re doing a follow up of the biggest night in TV. With another year, another Emmys down, and after capturing all of the shenans that happened last night on our blog (relive the magic here!), we’re giving our two cents on the looks that wowed us and the ones that made us maybe vom in our mouths a little. The trend was definitely red and white, and it makes me think everyone just wanted to pay homage to Game of Thrones and The Red Wedding. Get it? Red? White? Oh boy. Here are our choices for best and worst dressed. What are yours?

Molly’s Picks

Best Dressed

Amy Poehler in Theia

So, we’re all 5’2 here, right? No, just us and Amy Poehler? It’s hard to look like a beautiful shimmering statue when you’re on the shorter side but I think it’s safe to say Amy pulls it off here. I’m glad beachy waves have stuck around for another season because I’m not bored of them yet.

Alllison Williams in Giambattista Valli Couture

You can say that Allison Williams always plays it ind of safe and Disney Princess-y. But you can also say that she knows what works for her and sticks to it – and whenever actresses swing and miss on the red carpet, isn’t it because they failed to do just that?

Michelle Dockery in Rosie Assoulin

I love how this is colorful without being clowny, and young without being silly, and sophisticated without being stuffy. Another actress who knows what works for her and usually sticks with it.

Kiernan Shipka in Antonio Berardi

And on to the most consistently well-dressed actress working today! If this were gown-length it would have been awesome on an adult actress, but the length keeps it young. Hard to believe that Sally Draper will be driving legally before too long.

Lizzy Caplan in Donna Karan Atelier

While I’m trying to have as little overlap as possible on our lists so we can talk about as many dresses as we can – I cannot talk about the best dressed of last night without mentioning Lizzy Caplan. Today, as in Mean Girls, she deserves to be much more well-known than she is, but based on how she looked last night I don’t think that will be a problem for very long.

Honorable mention: Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Carolina Herrera – only not on my list because you’ll get to look at her later on.

Worst Dressed

Lena Dunham in Giambattista Valli

As I said in the live blog, Lena Dunham looks like she would do roller derby here. I think that Lena’s not an unattractive lady (and talented to boot!) but I often wish her clothes would be tailored better and that she’d stand up a bit straighter. Grandma, out.

Katherine Heigl

Grandma, in. Matronly and flesh-colored: not the best combo.

Laura Prepon in Gustavo Cadile

Has this entire summer been a plot to turn Alex Vause fans into Poussey Washington fans? Because it’s working.

Kerry Washington in Prada

I still can’t decide if this is truly among the worst, or just confusing. It looks like two entirely different, non-coordinating dresses at once. I cannot imagine being so beautiful that you can squander a major dress-up event like this on a weird dress because you know you have a whole lifetime of chances to look flawless ahead of you.

Mayim Bialik

A Fox News headline said Mayim wanted to look “hot and holy” – which considering the source, may be the exact opposite of the truth. Mayim’s into modesty, and that’s fine, but I think she could’ve erred a bit more towards the “hot” side of the equation and still been dressed appropriately.

Traci’s Picks

Best Dressed

Lizzy Caplan in Donna Karan Atelier

LIZZY. FREAKING. CAPLAN. I am in love with this look. The cut, the train, the hair, the makeup, everything. Lizzy isn’t exactly one of those actresses you think of when it comes to hitting home runs on the red carpet – mainly because she gets overlooked by ‘bigger celebrities’. But with an Emmy nomination to her name and this home run dress, she won’t be forgotten from now on.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Carolina Herrera

Hi. This woman is 53 years old. Like Lizzy, this entire look from head to toe is perfect. Up close (in pictures, obvs), this dress is a raspberry color, and her simple makeup reflects the same rosy color. Also the straps on the gown are patent leather, and so sick in the back. Definitely Emmy winner worthy.

Taylor Schilling in Zuhair Murad

While Taylor didn’t win, she certainly dressed as if she was going to. The symmetrical jeweled pattern all over the dress are to die and she looks like a fab Greek goddess.

Sarah Hyland in Christian Siriano

Sarah Hyland is usually a ‘meh’ dresser at awards shows for me. Like everything she picks is not horrible, but it’s not the best either. This however is the best thing I’ve ever seen her in. Designed by Project Runway winner Christian Siriano, this crop top matched with a flowing skirt is the perfect young adult look for Sarah, who is 23 IRL but plays like 19 on Modern Family. Again from her perfect bun to her makeup and accessories this is definitely one of the best from the night.

January Jones in Prabal Gurung

Attention ladies: this dress has POCKETS. Also, the skirt makes it look like Betty Draper is floating on air.

Honorable Mentions: Amy Poehler aka Beyonce aka Amy Pueblo in Theia and Anna Chlumsky in Zac Posen

Worst Dressed

Sarah Paulson in Armani Prive

Oh Sarah Paulson. I love you girl but… what? This looks like the top of a Philip Treacy fascinator exploded onto a black gown.

Laura Prepon in Gustavo Cadile

I get that Laura Prepon is a Scientologist (said in hushed tones), but even this is too outer spacey for the Emmys.

Lena Headey  In Rubin Singer

Ok, so this is another example of styling gone wrong. The dress itself is not horrible. It’s a little drab, but okay. But then the shoes look way too clunky on her. And her Pixie hair looks too tussled like she didn’t even try. Also where are the accessories?

Julianne Hough in Dsquared

I don’t understand why such a pretty girl like Julianne Hough usually chooses horrible dresses for awards shows (to her credit, she looked great at the VMAs on Sunday). She needs to get a new stylist because this is just not working. The dress, while it looks like a paper towel draped over her person, is not the WORST thing in the world, but matched with white pumps and messy hair, and a random green clutch, it just doesn’t go together.

Lena Dunham in Giambattista Valli Couture

Lena, Lena, Lena. It’s no surprise she’s on this side of the list. But here’s the thing about this look: A) she’s posing as if she’s doing a cover shoot for like Paper magazine B) The hair. It’s not even the blonde, it’s the cut of it. C) The top looks like something she (or bf Jack Antonoff) would wear, but paired with the skirt it looks a little weird. Something like this is what I think she looks great in, so maybe stay along those lines? Still thing you’re great, Lena.