Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights Preview

Rich and Poe awaken in a world of blinding light. A light snow of ash is falling from the sky. They get up and look around, but they can’t see anything. Just the ash and the light. In front of them are footprints they begin to follow. Suddenly there is a glimmer of a man, a fleeting glimpse of a shadow fleeing. They take chase. They hear a scatter of words through the eerie silence. “Face” A mystery is afoot and they are the only ones that can solve it. “Stop, police!” they yell, but their words feel muted and no matter how they use their lightning-quick speed and muscled physiques they can’t seem to catch up to the figure. “It’s” They suddenly seem woozy, uncoordinated. “For” They are crawling, unable to keep track of where the man could have gone. “Time” The stare silently at the whirling sky of white ash. “Off” The man is above them staring down through a mask. The gamemaster laughs a horrible laugh. “Who?” Rich and Poe mumble. Or are they Jamie and Patrick now? Are they dead? Was the blinding white light, Rich’s quickening, their final moments? The gamemaster stops laughing and begins to take off his mask. Rich and Poe scream silently in horror as the face is revealed to be Nic Cage. Tears slide silently down their faces as Nic Cage slowly shakes his head. The shaking gets faster and faster until it stops revealing John Travola instead… “What?” Rich and Poe ask. They are on their feet. Travolta is in front of them clad in a leisure suit. “This is all just a dream,” he states bluntly, “but it’s no less deadly. You ready? Because when you fight with dance the whole earth is your battlefield… and all time.” That’s right! We’re making the leap from our around the world mapl.de.map cycle to a journey through time (we’re calling it The Past and Future Kings here at BMTHQ). Fortunately for us when they made an ill-advised sequel to Dirty Dancing they decided to set in Cuba during the Cuban Revolution. So let’s get ready for a blast from the past with some straight up filthy dancing to boot. Let’s go!

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) – BMeTric: 29.6; Notability: 32 

(Actually a lot higher rated than I thought it would be … something in the back of my mind made me think this was the worst film of 2004 or something. Not only does it eke out a 6.0 on IMDb, but it breaks 20% on Rotten Tomatoes. This might just be one vista away from being okay.)

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – Romola Garai and Diego Luna. You remember him from “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” and here again he has that quirky, winning charm. She is a beauty and a gifted comedian, who played Kate in “Nicholas Nickleby” and was the younger sister, Cassandra, in the wonderful 2003 film “I Capture the Castle.” They must be given credit for their presence and charisma in “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights,” and together with the film’s general ambiance, they do a lot to make amends for the lockstep plot. But here’s an idea: Rent “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” “Nicholas Nickleby” and “I Capture the Castle,” and eliminate the middleman.

(To note, Ebert openly dislikes Dirty Dancing. He gave it one star at the time, and from what I can tell he never bothered to update the rating, despite years of cult status that followed, as he often did. In the review he wonders if he has gone soft. And honestly, while he dances (heyoooo) around it, I think by 2004 he had definitely fully developed his “good for what they are” idea behind popcorn films, which I think is going “soft” in a way. I might be satisfied by vistas and dancing? Ebert, you know me too well.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBGEbEqQAsY/

(Huh the film is vaguely based around a competition at the end eh … this might be one of our best and most direct “secret sports movies” ever. Also there is a multitude of bad dancing films, and we rarely touch on them for whatever reason. Maybe watching this will change our minds. Much like vistas, watching people dance is fun regardless of how terrible the film surrounding the sequence is.)

Directors – Guy Ferland – (Known For: Telling Lies in America; Future BMT: The Babysitter; BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: )

Writers – Kate Gunzinger (story) – (BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: Not much information on her, it seems like she was working with Segal on this at the time.)

Peter Sagal (story) – (BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: He is the host of the very popular radio show What Wait … Don’t Tell Me. He also wrote the Olivier Gruner classic Savage.)

Boaz Yakin (screenplay) – (Known For: Now You See Me; Safe; Fresh; Death in Love; A Price Above Rubies; Future BMT: The Punisher; The Rookie; Now You See Me 2; Boarding School; Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; Max; BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: His career looks like it was split in half. He was preparing to eventually direct, and was going to get his chance with Batman: Year One in 2005 … but that then became Chistopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. He then got Prince of Persia in 2010, and has been a consistent writer since, including the upcoming Idris Elba film The Harder They Fall.)

Victoria Arch (screenplay) – (Known For: Pali Road; BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: One of the only films she has a writing credit on, but did not direct. Got a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting.)

Actors – Diego Luna – (Known For: A Rainy Day in New York; Rogue One; If Beale Street Could Talk; The Bad Batch; Y Tu Mamá También; The Terminal; Contraband; Elysium; Blood Father; The Book of Life; Milk; Frida; Open Range; Before Night Falls; Casa de mi Padre; Mister Lonely; Wander Darkly; Rudo y Cursi; Criminal; Nicotina; Future BMT: Vampires: Los Muertos; Berlin, I Love You; Fade to Black; BMT: Flatliners; Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: You better believe Luna started his career on a Mexican soap opera! One of his first roles was on El abuelo y yo, although only for three episodes. Interestingly his Y Tu Mamá También costar Gael García Bernal was in 90 episodes of that same show.)

Romola Garai – (Known For: Atonement; The Windermere Children; Scoop; Suffragette; Vanity Fair; Nicholas Nickleby; Amazing Grace; I Capture the Castle; Glorious 39; Inside I’m Dancing; Angel; Renaissance; Junkhearts; Future BMT: The Last Days on Mars; The Other Man; As You Like It; One Day; BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; Notes: Was a leading actress around 2003-2005. Born in Hong Kong, she has mostly done BBC mini-series and shows in the last ten years, including The Hour and Emma both of which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.)

Sela Ward – (Known For: Gone Girl; The Day After Tomorrow; The Fugitive; Runaway Bride; Nothing in Common; My Fellow Americans; Future BMT: The Stepfather; 54; Hello Again; The Man Who Loved Women; The Badge; Rustlers’ Rhapsody; BMT: Independence Day: Resurgence; Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights; The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for Independence Day: Resurgence in 2017; Notes: You’d recognize her, she’s a huge television star, she won an Emmy for Once and Again. She was a big TV Movie star in the 80s and 90s, and was one of the stars of CSI: NY and FBI.)

Budget/Gross – $25,000,000 / Domestic: $14,161,590 (Worldwide: $27,685,016)

(Not great. I don’t know what they thought a sequel made 20 years after the original would be good for $50 million? Smells like Hollywood accounting. Doubt it made much money regardless.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 23% (25/108): Cheesy, unnecessary remake.

(Suitably succinct consensus I suppose. One of the big complaints appears to be a lack of chemistry between the leads. That was certainly not a problem in the first film, I tell you what. Reviewer Highlight: The movie, more wan than wicked, proves you can’t go home again. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)

Poster – Destination Sequel

(Oh boy. That dancing looks filthy. Shield your eyes! I think it’s getting the job done with an OK color scheme. Not sure why they gave the classic Dirty Dancing font the boot. That’s the one big mistake. B-)

Tagline(s) – Break the rules. Find your freedom. Live your life. (B-)

(This is a tagline classic straight from the Jamie School of Taglines. I mean, talk about arule of three. I wish the three things were better connected, but I appreciate the effort.)

Keyword – cuba

Top 10: Scarface (1983), X: First Class (2011), Die Another Day (2002), GoldenEye (1995), Fast & Furious 8 (2017), Big Fish (2003), Bad Boys II (2003), Original Sin (2001), JFK (1991), Octopussy (1983)

Future BMT: 62.5 Big Fat Important Movie (2008), 48.9 McHale’s Navy (1997), 34.0 Captain Ron (1992), 28.9 Original Sin (2001), 20.5 Live by Night (2016), 19.5 Havana (1990), 16.9 Bad Boys II (2003);

BMT: Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)

(These graphs always seem to come in such interesting waves. Bad Boys II is probably the most “Cuba” of the remaining films. Things like McHale’s Navy and Captain Ron probably have plot points surrounding it, but they both seem to primarily take place in a more fictional Caribbean.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 17) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: January Jones is No. 6 billed in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and No. 3 billed in Seeking Justice, which also stars Nicolas Cage (No. 1 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 6 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 5 + 1 = 17. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – Neither Romola Garai (Katey) nor Diego Luna (Javier) had any professional dance training. Before production began, the two spent ten weeks in Puerto Rico, training for eight hours a day with Producer JoAnn Fregalette Jansen and four additional dancers and choreographers.

The plot is loosely based on the life story of Producer JoAnn Fregalette Jansen, who moved to Cuba with her family in 1958. Thus, the “Based on True Events” title. (Huh, that’s interesting)

The movie was filmed in Puerto Rico, and made to look like Cuba. Most of it was done in the colonial part of San Juan, Old San Juan, a very popular hangout for Puerto Ricans, and a very touristy area. In order to maintain the look and esthetic of the pre-Cuban revolution era, producers secured underground parking places for people that would visit Old San Juan during the shoot, so that there wouldn’t be any modern cars parked in the streets.

Natalie Portman was considered for the role of Katey, and Ricky Martin was considered for the role of Javier. They were both the first choices. (I usually don’t leave casting stuff in the notes because it is sketchy and boring but … Ricky Martin?! If only)

Story Writer Peter Sagal is the same Peter Sagal who hosts the National Public Radio program “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” The script is loosely based on an earlier screenplay that Sagal had written as an original story, not as a Dirty Dancing sequel. (Weird)

Patrick Swayze appeared in this movie as Johnny Castle, since this movie took place in 1958, and Dirty Dancing (1987) took place in 1963. Before the ending credits, a new instrumental version of “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” can be heard. (Weird to think about … uh, how old was Johnny Castle in Dirty Dancing?)

Rated number eleven in Entertainment Weekly’s Top 25 Worst Sequels Ever Made (2006).

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