The Dirty Dancing remake was a flop: is anyone surprised?


Add this to the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” file. ABC’s semi-musical remake of the 80s favorite Dirty Dancing, which aired Wednesday night, was savaged by critics and fans of the original movie, who were more than happy to let their feelings about the 3-hour televised torture session be known on social media.

ABC’s first (and hopefully last) foray into the televised musical genre replaced Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze with Abigail Breslin and Cole Prattes, padded the original story with needless plot lines and tacked on an ending that had viewers throwing things at their televisions. And, in between that, there was just so much nope.

As for the critical reception, Entertainment Weekly said the project “has managed to surgically extract the magic — leaving the story and signature lines intact while suctioning out all the subtlety, charm, and lead chemistry that defined the iconic 1987 original.” Their review went on to point out the obvious lack of on-screen sizzle between Cole and Abigail, noting that “potatoes have more sexual dazzle than these two.” Vulture also pointed out the actors’ lack of chemistry, saying, “Nobody’s got hungry eyes in this thing. At best, their eyes are saying, ‘Eh, I don’t know. I guess I could have a snack.’” Vulture, however, did find one redeeming thing about the movie:

One thing universally reviled by both critics and viewers was the ending, where (SPOILER ALERT) we discover that Baby and Johnny don’t end up together – the resemblance to the ending of La La Land was not lost on anyone.

If the reviewers were not kind, viewers did not hold back at all. On Wednesday night, the tweets and memes began to appear on social media in droves. All I can say is ouch. Here are some of my personal favorites:

I have never hidden the fact that I am an admitted musical theater nerd, but these televised musical events are not blowing up my skirt. I had a feeling this was going to be a train wreck when it was announced. For every The Wiz Live and Hairspray there seems to be a Sound of Music Live or the Rocky Horror debacle (which I still fail to recognize as a thing that has ever existed). I’d rather see a good touring company of any of these shows over these star-stuffed, often stunt-cast disasters. I feel bad for all involved with Dirty Dancing, but hopefully the networks may start to learn a lesson here.

Premiere of ABC's 'Dirty Dancing: The New Musical'

'Dirty Dancing: The New ABC Musical Event' - Premiere - Arrivals

'Dirty Dancing: The New ABC Musical Event' - Premiere - Arrivals

Photos: WENN.com, Getty Images

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92 Responses to “The Dirty Dancing remake was a flop: is anyone surprised?”

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  1. amalia says:

    This remake was a stupid idea, don’t know who thought it would be smart to do it.

    Plus, no one can replace Patrick Swayze.

  2. third ginger says:

    The original DIRTY DANCING captured the proverbial “lightening in a bottle” with perfect tone, mood, casting. It cannot happen twice.

  3. WhichWitch says:

    Just like King Arthur, a film no one asked for and no one wanted.

    • Annie says:

      Hollywood right now is nothing but remakes and sequels that no one needs. There’s a Robin Hood remake in the works, FFS. A Charlie’s Angels remake. No originality anymore. I stopped going to the theater regularly a long time ago. Now I just binge watch amazing series.

      • minx says:

        Same, I can’t remember the last movie I saw. I love good tv series.

      • third ginger says:

        My husband and I still go, but Gosh, it’s expensive. And the snacks!! I am a popcorn addict.

        At home, I just binged watched KIMMY SCHIMDT. On NETFLIX there is also a fascinating but disturbing documentary called THE KEEPERS.

      • WeAreAllMadeofStars says:

        You mean a remake of the remake of Charlie’s Angels? Are they remaking the first, second, or third remake of Charlie’s Angels?

  4. MaybeTomorrow says:

    My husband watched it (I’m traveling now) as it was filmed near where we live. He said it was horribly cast — particularly Baby — but he liked Sarah Hyland in it. FWIW.

    • Bethy says:

      Debra Messing and Sarah were the ONLY good things from the remake. I’m surprised Sarah wasn’t cast as Baby rather then Abigail. Abigail couldn’t dance. Period.

      The original Dirty Dancing is one of my favorite movies of all times. My friend’s cousin directed it, so we went to see it a lot back in the day. Nothing could have recaptured Swayze and Grey’s chemistry, even when they hated each other, you believed in Baby and Johnny. This production was a trainwreck from beginning to end.

      • detritus says:

        The legs in that lift… the lack of core stability… they shouldn’t have ever let that happen. Insta fail is right.

      • MaybeTomorrow says:

        He said Sarah should have been Baby too and I neglected to say he liked DM in her role as well.

  5. smcollins says:

    I was 12 when the original came out. That movie, plus the soundtrack, was my everything. The dancing! The music! The forbidden romance! Patrick Swayze was so swoon worthy, and his chemistry with Jennifer Grey was incredible. And, of course, the wonderful Jerry Orbach as Baby’s father. And those knee-length, rolled-up jean shorts that Baby wore became a huge fashion trend, to boot. Like a previous poster stated, lightening in a bottle. I stayed far far away from this (unnecessary) mess of a remake, and I’m so glad I did.

    Side note: the GIF with JG is awesome 😂

    • third ginger says:

      Gosh, I miss Jerry Orbach. I watch all the old LAW and ORDER episodes.

    • Sam says:

      I was 10 when it came out and i must have watched it 10000 times. My best friend and i would sit around singing along to the soundtrack on cassette for hours on end. I didn’t even bother watching the remake, had no desire. I do however now want to watch the original again! It was such a huge part of my childhood.

  6. Lafawnda says:

    Speaking of La La Land, I’m going to our beach house this weekend and I’m looking for some good movies to watch? Should I Redbox La La Land or no? I’ve heard mixed reviews on it.

    • third ginger says:

      My husband and I loved it. We are old,however [64] MOONLIGHT will break your heart, and HELL OR HIGH WATER is amazing. A sweet, fun movie from Ireland is SING STREET. Other posters will, of course, have different opinions. Have a wonderful time!!

    • Redgrl says:

      Lafawnda – re Lala Land – no. I love musicals and that was awful. Amateurish and poor “singing” and “dancing”. Hated it.

      • third ginger says:

        Lawfanda definitely needs the different opinions. Did you have some favorites from last year? I forgot to mention HIDDEN FIGURES.

      • Lafawnda says:

        You would think the performances would have been better with such a talented cast.

        I definitely need to see Hidden Figures!

      • Miss Melissa says:

        I adored Hidden Figures.

      • kiddo says:

        Agree Lala land was awful, theres just something off about it, and im saying this as Emma Stone fan, Stone and Gosling are my favorite pairs, but not for Lala land

      • Liberty says:

        Hidden Figures!! Wonderful.

    • Mare says:

      Since you mentioned that you were going to your “beach house”, why don’t you enjoy the outdoors? You can sit in front of the TV when you’re home.

      • Rude. I know when I’m on vacation we do so many activities during the day that unwinding in front of the tube feels crucial! Just saying no need to judge others here.

      • Lafawnda says:

        @Mare I was waiting for someone to say that and honestly, I was hoping it wouldn’t happen. You’re smarter than this. I’m not going camping. I won’t be outdoors 24/7. I like to relax at night with a movie and a joint. You should try it. It’s lovely.

      • Bridget says:

        I don’t know why you guys replied, Mare won’t be able to read them because she’s clearly spending her time enjoying the outdoors. Day or night, outside all day every day!

      • Lafawnda says:

        @Bridget lmao! Right! And I love how she put “beach house” in quotations. Like I’m staying at my “beach house” for the weekend…..ALLEGEDLY!

      • Adele Dazeem says:

        I wish I was as cool as Mare.

      • Amanduh says:

        Lafawnda….hope you have an awesome time!! Your nightly activities sound divine! Enjoy!

    • Incognito says:

      I enjoyed La La Land. The leads aren’t the best singers or dancers, but I also went in with low expectations. I haven’t seen Moonlight, but it’s on my list of movies to watch. Hell or High Water was EXCELLENT. I’ve seen that one a couple times now. The cast was so good and I loved Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine in it.

      • third ginger says:

        Chris Pine was so great. It really advanced his reputation as an actor, holding his own with the always great Jeff Bridges.

        Lafawnda, “I’m not going camping..” is my line of the week. Almost spit out my unsweetened tea!!

      • Lafawnda says:

        @thirdginger Well, it’s common sense. I didn’t know how else to put it. lol! We also have indoor plumbing-believe it or not! So I don’t have to go under a palm tree.

    • Missy says:

      My bf and I also enjoyed it, he more so than I! It was charming, entertaining, and unique.

      I agree with some of the criticisms above, though. The leads aren’t professional singers and dancers, and it showed. If you want a sophisticated musical that’ll wow you with the drama and theatrical talent, this isn’t it. But, if you have realistic expectations, I think you’ll find it really is a cute movie (if you’re into cute movies).

    • Bethy says:

      I hated LaLa Land, but I’m in the minority. I thought Moonlight was incredible.

      • Lafawnda says:

        I heard Moonlight is really sad and I try to stay away from heartbreaking movies. I’ve only heard good things about it though so I may give it a shot.

    • senna says:

      I think La La Land is definitely worth a watch! It’s essentially an old-school take on what it means to love an art form “purely,” though – enjoying contemporary jazz genres is “selling out” and “making it” in hollywood means being the lead in a major film and nothing else. I think, though, compared to Chazelle’s first film, which was a meditation on the personality associated with genius, and how asshole-ish that can be, this is a complement. It asks what success requires us to sacrifice in terms of our love and partnerships. It’s really beautifully made, too, despite all the quibbling over inferior singing and dancing (which didn’t bother me).

      I loved Hidden Figures! Moonlight is a truly incredible movie and deserved best picture. You will be a wreck by the end of it, though (I was). Hell or High Water is a smart person’s revenge thriller. Fences is worth watching for Viola and Denzel’s incredible performances, though it is essentially a play, less of a movie.

      On the just-outside-the-oscars list I also loved:
      Elle (Huppert was robbed for best actress IMHO). This is highly, outrageously disturbing and traumatic, but it was such an unexpected movie. It’s so incredibly funny with very black humor and screwball comedy. And it’s so sinister, but then it verges into “the victim becomes the criminal mastermind” territory unexpectedly. I loved it.

      Nocturnal Animals: This is also not one to watch while cozy in front of the fire, as it’s just as disturbing as Elle, but Tom Ford is one of the most brilliant visual thinkers I’ve ever seen, and his movies are rich in atmosphere with fascinating character studies. A Single Man is – though just as sad – much more romantic.

      The Love Witch: a truly weird movie I can’t forget; a feminist homage to shlocky horror movies, in which a deranged narcissistic love-witch pursues her ideal man. It’s so smart, and so beautiful to look at, a film that has a lot of fun with a serious point to make at its heart.

      • Lafawnda says:

        Senna, thank you so much for the recommendations and descriptions! This is a perfect movie list for me.

    • meowren says:

      i even take movies with me while camping. different strokes and all…

  7. Margo S. says:

    I had no idea this was happening. Never even heard of it.

  8. Penfold says:

    Lack of chemistry between the leads is right. There was nothing there. And I wasn’t crazy about the Johnny actor. He simply didn’t have “it”. No charisma, likability, vulnerability–nothing.

    I will be rewatching the original again today to recapture the feeling :)

    • AsIf says:

      the biggest problem I had with him was that he actually couldn’t dance. like that scene where neil says “I can dance like him” and I was sitting in front of the TV like “who are you telling this? even my ass that has never ever in my life danced could do that”

    • Lindy79 says:

      That was worse than I could ever have imagined

    • M.A.F. says:

      That is awful. They knew they were filming that day right? That it wasn’t a rehearsal day?

      And they had their actors sing?! So glad I didn’t bother watching this.

  9. Luca76 says:

    It was so awful. A friend of mine had me over to watch …we thought it might be so bad it was good it wasn’t. I mean they just ruined everything. The casting of both leads was horrid. Breslin couldn’t dance AT ALL. The actor who played Johnny had abs but no sex appeal. There was no chemistry between them. And Debra Messing obviously had it in her contract that she’d get more to do as Baby’s mom because they gave her a song, a ridiculous subplot and lines from other characters. These are just things that I haven’t blocked out.

  10. courtney says:

    obviously this remake was going to fail miserably if the actor that played Johnny couldn’t even execute the famous lift without struggling while Patrick Swayze did it with ease in the original because he’d been a dancer all his life. besides that Abigail Breslin is 5 ins shorter and 9 lbs lighter than Jennifer Grey was when the original Dirty Dancing was filmed the original shoot took about seven weeks in the late summer early fall of 1986 released in theaters in late August 1987

    • Adele Dazeem says:

      There is a catty comment about Abigail Breslin simmering inside me but I won’t say it.

      Let’s just say she’s no Jennifer Grey then or now.

      • TQB says:

        I’m going to try and make it in a non-catty way because I think there is non-catty truth to it: I feel like she was set up to look ridiculous. Obviously she’s not a waifish dancer type, but Jennifer Grey looked big next to teeny tiny Penny in the original, so that’s hardly a real issue). When I heard about this I assumed Breslin was a dancer. No, DD is NOT a true story of a dance amateur who becomes a great dancer; it’s a fantasy, a Hollywood creation. Jennifer Grey was a trained dancer who pretended to be bad. What, were they thinking they could Dancing With The Stars Breslin into a swan? Go watch that show – 75% of them turn out to be trainwrecks. The role of Baby needs to be played by a dancer, period, or she’s going to look like a clod, whether she’s thin as a rail or not.

      • Emma says:

        @ TQB – I completely agree.

        And to add to the problem with the lift, while obviously the man has to actually lift the woman, she must also use her core to support herself and arch her back. If she doesn’t have the core strength (and it doesn’t look like Abigail does) she cannot create the required line.

    • Van says:

      Jennifer Grey is only 5’3

  11. Deanne says:

    Epic fail on every level. The entire movie was awful, but in particular, Abigail Breslin was horribly miscast in the role of Baby. Her dance skills were as lacking at the end of the movie. as they were at the beginning and the iconic “lift” was a travesty. The bland actor who played Johnny, was an insult to Patrick Swayze’s memory. I don’t care how cut his abs are, he has zero charisma or chemistry with his leading lady. Who from the network could have looked at the finished product and not known it was a complete disaster?

    • holly hobby says:

      Sorry just because Abigail could shake her tail feather and looked good when she was 8 (little miss sunshine) doesn’t mean she’ll grow up to be a dancer. I caught maybe 10 minutes of it. It was the unintentionally laughable part where they were dancing around in leotards and lipsynching to that Baby song.

      I had so much second hand embarrassment that I laughed out loud.

      That guy is not Patrick Swayze. When they announced his casting and showed a picture, he reminded me of a criminal (it’s the creepy eyes).

      I turned it off after Mr. Houseman broke out in song and Baby whimpered why he doesn’t sing anymore and some kind of doomed marriage thing with mom (WTF!?!?!).

      Massive Fail.

  12. minx says:

    Oh, dear. It was an epic fail.

  13. LAK says:

    The side by side comparison of the water lift is giving me both secondhand embarrassment and an ouch factor for the guy. The dance trainer / supervisor on this project should be very ashamed because that lift is a major, major disaster and potentially injury waiting to happen. Was this the best they could do? Did they hire a dance trainer or a weightlifting trainer?

    Both actors have very bad lines. Anyone with basic knowledge of dance can see that, but the way Abigail’s arms and legs are flailing makes it harder, if not impossible, to lift her.

    Further, you can see that the guy’s weight is concentrated backwards instead of forwards, a classic performance difference in how weightlifters distribute their weight compared with how dancers distribute their weight. As a result, his back is folded in a way that is making me wince at the potential injury to it, plus his arms are folded like a weightlifter as he lifts and between the backwards weight distribution and his badly folded arms, he is already falling backwards into the water before he has barely lifted Abigail.

    • minx says:

      That picture was such an embarrassment.

    • Miss M says:

      Lak, Cole’s IMDB says he is dancer. As I was watchingt, I thought It might be hip hop or other street dance. If he says he has classic training, I will be shocked… That photo shows he doesn’t have the dancer’s lift technique like you pointed out.
      Abigail cannot dance for her life either…

      • LAK says:

        Cole is a dancer? In the same way that my granny is a dancer ie can shake her thing to the music? Coz that lift is not indicative of a dancer in any discipline.

        My dance training is Jazz, but i’ve taken the odd class in different styles over the years and weight distribution is a fundamental to all of them.

        I didn’t realise how important it was until i tried to teach a friend some basic dance moves. It turned out that my friend weight trains as part of her fitness routine, and in order to do that, she’s been taught to concentrate her weight backwards in her heels instead of forwards the balls of her feet.

        That little adjustment made a huge difference to her ability to execute any dance move.

      • Miss M says:

        LAK, I practiced jazz, ballet and rhythmic gymnastics. I understood what you were saying. This guy didn’t move smoothly, the posture and everything tells me he doesn’t have classic or contemporary training… he might have street dance training. It was an epic fail and I blame the casting director and whomever allowed these two to play Johnny and Baby… Unbelievable…

    • TQB says:

      Yeah, my first thought when i saw it was OUCH MY BACK!! I’m not even a dance person and the terrible form is obvious.

    • Bridget says:

      And Patrick Swayze could DANCE. He and Jennifer Grey were magic dancing together. These two? Amateurish. How many actors and dancers are there in LA and New York? This is really the best they could cast?

    • holly hobby says:

      Yeah first I thought it was the angle of the picture because Swayze/Grey looked amazing but nope they just didn’t know what the heck they were doing. Abigail couldn’t hold the pose Grey did. I think she looked genuinely terrified.

    • LAK says:

      To erase this horror, i’d like to recommend to y’all a french movie called HEARTBREAKER. It’s one of the few recent romcoms that works, holds up 7yrs after it’s release and uses DIRTY DANCING in a very playful way.

      Here are the 2 leads doing a better job of recreating the final dance scene better than this eyesore.
      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bA8lV1Iki9E

      Trailer: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Dszl1YoH68M

    • S in seattle says:

      I’m a dance nerd, but only knowledgeable to say “that ain’t right.” Thanks for all the detail!!!

  14. Miss M says:

    Critics are spot on!
    No chemistry… Cole is a dancer? If it is street dance yes, but he has no elegance or sex appeal of a balroom dancer… “Johnny can make anyone dance” … Not in this case, Abigail dances in a very awkward way… Some of the clothes her character used were awful…
    Sarah Hyland was great.

    • Lindy79 says:

      I remember someone saying he performed with Pink at some awards show, I think it was Try

      EDIT: Yep here it is
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY_rbzS2RPc

      Im still not seeing dancer in all honesty

      • M.A.F. says:

        He doesn’t even move like a dancer. Pink out danced him and I’m not even sure if she is a trained dancer or not.

    • peanutbuttr says:

      I thought Cole looked like he was struggling to partner Nicole in their Mambo scene. And honestly, while Patrick Swayze was all kinds of sexy, Cole merely looks like the kind of guy you date simply to spite your parents because you know they’ll hate him at first sight.

  15. adastraperaspera says:

    Still so sad that Patrick Swayze is gone.

  16. TQB says:

    It’s sad that there’s so much dance talent out there that’s had at least a little publicity from things like So You Think You Can Dance and instead these dolts are who they came up with.

  17. Penfold says:

    I think the guy’s name is Colt, not Cole.

    Still a bad remake…

  18. Kiki says:

    This guy is a bodybuilder who dances. Not a dancer and definitely no actor because his acting is horrendous. This is adding injury to insult with Patrick Swayze’s memory. I did not have “the time of my life” with this movie and “it is the truth and I don’t owe it all ” to this movie. The movie is a complete “Dirty Dumpster”.

    • holly hobby says:

      Dirty Dumpster indeed. 2017 looks like that. We’re just celebrating this on a remade TV show!

  19. WeAreAllMadeofStars says:

    Well I’ve never seen either of these movies. I flatly refused since something called “Dirty Dancing” was my granny’s favorite movie. Also, look at how painfully skinny that one chick’s legs are! Good Lord, eat something!

    • LAK says:

      Take it you don’t like your granny.

    • WeAreAllMadeofStars says:

      Well I’m sorry! I missed that post and am sorry to hear about that. I guess you never know, even in Hollywood. I’m glad she’s speaking out about it, lest people think she’s a Hollywood girl striving to be as thin as possible.

      And no, I have a fine relationship with my grandmother and simply preferred to not think of her heaving with happiness while watching something called “Dirty Dancing.” LOL

      • Amelie says:

        Dirty Dancing is just the name of the movie and has nothing to do with your grandma. The dancing in it is no more provocative than something you’d see on Dancing with the Stars. It’s not strip pole dancing if you had bothered to do research on the movie. It’s a love story between a young teen girl and a summer resort dance instructor set in the 1960s in the Catskills. Look up the final dance sequence on Youtube when they are dancing to Time of your life. You’ll understand why plenty of people–your grandma included–love this movie. You may not like it in the end but refusing to watch a movie because your grandma loves a movie with “dirty” in the title is just plain silly.

  20. teacakes says:

    When it comes to things named Dirty Dancing that aren’t the original movie, I’d rather stick to Havana Nights.

    At least that one has Diego Luna and Romola Garai.

    • hogtowngooner says:

      I actually didn’t mind Havana Nights! If you don’t let expectations of the original weight it down, it’s rather enjoyable if a bit cliched. And at least in that, the two leads had actual chemistry and dancing ability!

      • teacakes says:

        That’s exactly what I meant – it’s a flawed movie and the dialogue has some serious clunkers but Romola and Diego together make me swoon every time.

        At least I anticipate fun and cute costumes when I press play on DDHN. Looks like that’s not the case here.

  21. Harryg says:

    Nope, not surprised.

  22. YepIsaidit says:

    Abigail B is getting a lot of heat because she sucked as baby and just looked way too young- even at the end she looked like a 12 year old, wtf ? but I thought the guy was so ugly and miscast as well. why cast him? Don’t even know who he is. What a mess.

    • minx says:

      I thinks she’s very pretty and talented, and has a vulnerability to her that is really appealing. But she was so wrong for this role; I can’t believe she even wanted to do it.

  23. Lillian Berlin says:

    In the first 1/2 hour I’m like what the hell do we call this , Patrick is No doubt turning in his grave , good thing for re-runs cause after a hour I turned the channel . I couldn’t take no more .

  24. AsIf says:

    To add something positive: at least Baby actually looked like a baby?

  25. Anilehcim says:

    I had no idea this was even happening, but I’m GLAD it was a huge fail! Let this be a lesson to these lame writers who can’t come up with anything new anymore… find some originality! All these remakes are pathetic and ridiculous. Find your own ideas. Create new things. No one wants you to remake things that are already considered classic.

  26. Shirleygail says:

    Abigail~ non-sandlefoot stockings = close-toed shoes
    Stockings = closed toed shoes
    Bare toes = open toed shoes/sandals
    Sandlefoot stockings = very small open toed shoe

    Your combo = just wrong…..
    Thanks for listening~

  27. amilu says:

    I admit I was shocked at how thin her legs were, but you’re right — Sarah Hyland has struggled with her health for a very long time. She had a kidney transplant a few years ago, and she’s still struggling today. (I’ll try to forget the photos I’ve seen of her smoking. Hopefully that habit is in the past, but I understand that she’s probably pretty stressed out about a lot of things — her health, people shaming her figure/weight/body…)