A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is rated PG-13 "for sensuality," but what's here is mild compared to most PG-13 releases. As per the title, the dancing is suggestive. There is a discreet sexual situation -- a couple spends the night together on the beach and the next morning she is wearing his shirt. Characters drink and smoke and use some mild language, including an ugly racial epithet. There is some violence connected with the revolution, but nothing graphic.
What's the story?
DIRTY DANCING: HAVANA HEIGHTS takes place before the first movie, in 1958 Cuba, just before Castro's revolution. Kate (Romola Garai) and her family have just arrived. Her parents (James Slattery and Sela Ward) were once dancers, but gave it up to provide a conventional and comfortable home for their family. While her parents want her to spend time with the other American kids, Kate is more interested in dancing with the pool boy, Javier (Diego Luna). While her parents think she is spending time with the boy they want her to date, she is off practicing with Javier so they can enter a dance contest and he can win enough money to take his family to America.
Is it any good?
Somebody, please put this baby in a corner. Despite its name, this movie is not a sequel. In Hollywood terms, it is a "re-imagining" of the first film, which basically means it has attempted to recreate it but completely missed the point. It does not have the characters, setting, or plot of the original. It does not have the heart or the charm or the chemistry. Worst of all, it does not have the dancing. There are some slinky moves, but the camera keeps cutting away from the big dance numbers for reaction shots. Since there is barely enough of a plot to sustain a heartbeat, this probably means that the leads were not good enough dancers to do several different steps in a row, and it was intended to be distracting, pretty much defeating the entire purpose of the movie in the first place.
I have seen mayonnaise with more personality than the stars of this movie. And I have seen Jell-o with more excitement than the plot of this movie. It isn't that Garai and Luna have no chemistry with each other. They have anti-chemistry so powerful it seems to slow down the whole time-space continuum. There's a subtle reprise of the first movie's theme song and Patrick Swayze appears briefly as a dance teacher, just to underscore's this version's inferiority.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what happened in Cuba in the 1950s and the results of the revolution led by Fidel Castro. They could talk about why Kate lied to her parents and how they feel about the way Kate blackmailed James into lying for her. Fans of the original movie could talk about what a better sequel would have included.
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