My favorite “remade” dance films

The not so current trend of remaking beloved classic films continued this month (May 2017) with ABC broadcasting a “reboot” of the every so popular film “Dirty Dancing”. I did not watch the new movie, but I hear from numerous sources that it was a real stinker on many levels.

Sonya Saraiya, a TV critic who writes for Variety magazine, provided some very insightful words regarding this reboot trend. She wrote, “Hollywood’s headlong passion for plucking beloved pieces of pop culture out of the past and polishing them with a slick sheen of mediocre nostalgia has claimed even this raw, unpolished gem: “Dirty Dancing” on ABC is a sappy, passionless, schlocky remake of the original, without even the iota of imagination necessary to expand upon the 1987 film. Nearly every element of the film that caught worldwide audiences’ imaginations has been sanded down into an advertisement-ready imagining of the swinging ‘60s.

That sums up what most people are saying about the remake of this beloved film and the reboot trend that has been sweeping American cinema and television. It would be easy enough to continue with a discussion of this subject, but we can also argue that in some cases a reboot, remake or sequel turned out to be a big hit. I offer, for your consideration, a list of my favorite dance movies that are a remake, reboot, or have spawned sequels.

The first movie on my list is “Shall We Dance?” starring Jennifer Lopez and Richard Gere. Many people do not know that the original movie was called “Shall We Dansu?” made in 1996 and was a Japanese film. Having watched both versions of the film it is interesting to see how the premise is slightly the same, but the overall feel of the films are quite different. The original carries a much deeper meaning that cannot be duplicated with the remake. This is due to the differences in Japanese and American culture and how both societies interact with the opposite sex. Needless to say it would take too much time to explain here, but it is interesting and I recommend that you take the time to research the topic before watching the original. Both films are very good in showcasing the reasons for one particular man to decide to take his first dance lesson, and the overall effect it has on him in the long run.

The second movie on my list is “Footloose” starring Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald. I realize there are going to people who cry SACRIEGE at my inclusion of this remake, however, for people who love good dancing, they will agree that this movie showcased its stars very well. As this was a straight up remake, the stories from both movies are very similar, with only a few slight changes here or there. The obvious differences are the casting choices for both films. It is well known that director Herbert Ross wanted to cast up-and-coming actors Like Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Chris Penn and Sarah Jessica Parker to mix with established actors like John Lithgow and Dianne West. Ross also required that his young actors be able to dance but he did not want professionals. We wanted his cast to look like every other red blooded American teenage for that time period. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of the few stars that had professional training, but Ross desired a more authentic feel to his dance scenes and he obvious achieved that. We see people who look like they are having a good time just doing their own thing. The remake took the opposite approach with director Craig Brewer deciding to cast professional dancers in lieu of trained actors. We see the polish of his dance scenes, with Julianne Hough getting a chance to really show her stuff. The dancing is very entertaining, though the movie doesn’t give you the same everyman feeling.

Last on my list is movie called “Step Up” which stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum. The original was a bad boy makes good story, with some really good dancing from the stars. From there a whole series of Step Up sequels came into being and a chance for new dancers to be showcased. My favorite in the series was actually the last one made called “Step Up All In”, which I understand featured the best dancers from all of the previous sequels. A couple of noted performers are Ryan Guzman and Briana Evigan, who are both starting to get some traction in other types of films and advertising gigs. Let’s also not forget Stephen Boss, better known as tWitch, who showed off his notable talents on “So You Think you Can Dance”. He is another dancer starting to gain serious momentum. All in all a good series of movies that delivered on the premise of the titles and showcased some great dancing.

Agree or disagree? Leave your comments below.

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