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Dirty Dancing 4K UHD

Lionsgate Home Entertainment // PG-13 // August 23, 2022
List Price: $22.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted November 1, 2022 | E-mail the Author
Dirty Dancing:

17-year-old Frances "Baby" Houseman (an otherworldly Jennifer Grey) tries to enjoy a final summer at a Catskills resort before starting the life her parents want her to live; joining the Peace Corps, going to college to earn a degree both prestigious and progressive, and marrying rich. When cock-of-the-walk dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze in a steely turn) struts on by, first seeming like a mere ne'er-do-well before we learn of his staff position, Baby gets a little weak in the knees; her coming of age story coming to life to hits from the '60s and contemporary pop songs from the movie soundtrack, which as you've all guessed by now, is Dirty Dancing, here in a 35th Anniversary edition.

Dirty Dancing originally debuted in 1987, when I, as a lonely and luckless high-school senior, had nobody to take to the movies. Since this swoony romance wasn't otherwise directed at such as I, I hadn't seen it until now, on its 35th anniversary. I'm pretty sorry I waited so long, as this perfectly-crafted confection is simply an enjoyment machine; moving briskly, manipulating emotions expertly, and pulling excellent performances from everyone involved.

Subplots contribute actual drama; Castle's dance-instruction partner gets in trouble and Baby tries to help, involving her father (played with weary charm and weight by Jerry Orbach) without explaining what's going on, while Baby's sister gets mixed up with another guest who isn't quite who he presents himself to be. It's nice to have those thematic elements to ground Dirty Dancing which would have otherwise simply flown away on gusts of sexual euphoria. Why else would it be titled Dirty Dancing?

Boy, does it work on the level of dancing dirty! Despite the leads' general animosity towards each other (they didn't like each other while filming Red Dawn which carried over to Dirty Dancing) they were able to bury the hatchet , and perhaps their behind-the-scenes tension added a bit to their onscreen chemistry, which is in fact smoking.

The dancing is pretty great too, used to establish Castle's bona fides with a spastic 'Mashed Potato' meant to intrigue resort guests, and humorous scenes of guests learning to cha-cha, etc. Baby first stumbles upon resort staff 'dirty dancing' during their downtime, and is veritably intrigued. And later, when Castle's partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) has to bow out from her duties, Baby is called upon to fill in. Not being a professional dancer, Baby must be brought up to speed, providing about all the sexual awakening metaphors you'd care to sample, including a menage-a-trois set to the song 'Hungry Eyes'. Let me tell you, this movie is hot! Swayze and Grey's first dance is exhilarating, and Grey's smoldering looks and constantly-heaving bosom provide no doubt as to what all the primal, coded dancing scenes really mean. For what it's worth, the movie provides the rousing, audience-pleasing happy ending everyone wants, as Castle illuminates for our heroine, looking for both agency and love; "nobody puts Baby in the corner!"

At 35-years'-remove from its debut, it's no secret to most movie fans that Dirty Dancing is a smoking-hot musical, dance-tastic, coming-of-age story with enough drama to keep it bubbling along perfectly towards its crowd-pleasing conclusion. Despite offscreen differences, Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze have undeniable chemistry, especially on the dance-floor, in scenes that will challenge any viewers' composure. Don't be a fool like me and dismiss this movie if you haven't seen it. The 35th Anniversary edition looks fantastic in 4k, and with a boatload of extras, this rides up real close to being a DVD Talk Collector Series release, and I'm feeling generous today, so there it is!


The DVD

Video:
Dirty Dancing is newly remastered in 2160p 4k, Dolby Vision with HDR, presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it looks pretty great. I believe this is the same master source from the earlier steelbook Best Buy exclusive, so if you've already got that, you're good. It looks awesome to me, considering the low-budget source of the movie, filmed entirely on location with many scenes enjoying only natural light. Film grain is present, but holds up quite well for the most part, only becoming more dominant in darker outdoor scenes. Details aren't earth-shaking, but are likely definite improvement over Blu-ray, and colors are deep, fresh, and vibrant. Overall, this is certainly an improvement over the many previous releases, and the best, and most natural, the movie has looked to date, with no untoward mastering defects of which to speak.


Sound:
You get a variety of audio choices with which to enjoy the soundtrack, including English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio (7.1 for the Blu-ray disc only), and English Dolby Stereo. The mixes are very active, of course increasing in complexity as the channels increase. Dynamic placement is quite enveloping for a movie much more interested in music than creating an atmosphere where one feels surrounded, say, by diners having lunch and clinking silverware. However, this definitely works to make you feel immersed. Dynamic range is pretty solid too, allowing the soundtrack songs room to get their respective grooves on, while dialog is mixed nicely with the score, and doesn't betray any distortion or damage.


Extras:
Extras are voluminous. Though most of them have appeared on previous releases. They include a lovely Slip Cover with rounded corners, a Digital Download Code, English SDH and English and Spanish Subtitles. The 4k disc includes and Audio Commentary with writer/ co-producer Eleanor Bergstein, and a Commentary Track with choreographer Kenny Ortega, actress Miranda Garrison, and many more! An "Establishing Shot" Featurette with cinematographer Jeff Jur, and the Theatrical Trailer round out the 4k extras.

The Blu-ray disc includes many more extras, in addition to the aforementioned Commentary Tracks on the 4k disc. You also get Intimate Interviews with Patrick Swayze, Outtakes, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Scenes, and Extended Scenes (which, if you ask me, are all kind of the same thing, but fun nonetheless). There are even more Interviews with Jennifer Grey, Swayze, Bergstein and more. There are Music Videos and the list goes on.


Final Thoughts:
At 35-years'-remove from its debut, it's no secret to most movie fans that Dirty Dancing is a smoking-hot musical, dance-tastic, coming-of-age story with enough drama to keep it bubbling along perfectly towards its crowd-pleasing conclusion. Despite offscreen differences, Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze have undeniable chemistry, especially on the dance-floor, in scenes that will challenge any viewers' composure. Don't be a fool like me and dismiss this movie if you haven't seen it. The 35th Anniversary edition looks fantastic in 4k, and with a boatload of extras, this rides up real close to being a DVD Talk Collector Series release, and I'm feeling generous today, so there it is!

www.kurtdahlke.com

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