Choreographer and director Emile Ardolino’s classic coming-of-age tale of dance and romance returns to Blu-ray just in time for Valentine’s Day in Dirty Dancing: 30th Anniversary Edition (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, 100 minutes, 1.85:1 aspect ratio, $14.99).
Has it really been three decades since movie audiences appreciated the exploits of the wealthy Houseman clan vacationing at the famed Kellerman’s Mountain Retreat in the Catskills in 1963?
While guests such as the Houseman daughters Frances “Baby” (Jennifer Grey) and Lisa (Jane Brucker) spend their days, eating, drinking and enjoying wholesome resort activities such as ballroom dancing and volleyball during the day, the raucous staff spent the off hours in their quarters, tripping the light fantastic to that nasty rock and roll music.
It’s a potent divergence that sparks a budding dose of summer loving when Baby meets hotshot dance pro Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) during one of the late-night parties, much to the eventual chagrin of her father Dr. Jake (Jerry Orbach).
The plot drips drama, humor and generational conflict throughout while offering elements of “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever” and even “Meatballs” to the proceedings.
Fantastic partner-dance sequences between Swayze and Miss Grey and strong performances from Cynthia Rhodes (as dancer in crisis Penny Johnson), Kelly Bishop (as mama Houseman) and Wayne Knight (as the resort’s activity director Stan) make it a classic film for any home theater audience in need of some feel good moments.
The full-screen presentation looks pretty great sporting the same digital transfer from the 2010 release, but it still suffers from too much grain and cinematographer Jeffrey Jur’s rather bland and flat color choices.
What viewers will not forget is the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack that brings to life some classic tunes such as The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons’ “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and, of course, the Academy Award-winning song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” that aurally explodes from the screen during the rousing dance finale.
Best extras: A new 30-minute retrospective looks at the magic of the “Dirty Dancing” franchise over the years and offers interviews with writer Eleanor Bergstein and original cast members Bonnie Timmerman, Miranda Garrison, Doriana Sanchez, Jesus Fuentes, Jane Brucker, Kelly Bishop along with members from the latest Broadway musical, and the new “Dirty Dancing” TV movie.
Viewers also get roughly 90 minutes of additional archival interviews with Swayze (two segments actually never heard before), Miss Bergstein, Miss Grey, choreographer Kenny Ortega and assistant choreographer Miranda Garrison.
Also, for the serious fans with lots of time on their hands, two optional commentary tracks overwhelm. The first features the enlightening Miss Bergstein, while the other is a slightly bland haphazard effort with Mr. Ortega, Miss Garrison, Mr. Jur, production designer David Chapman and costume designer Hilary Rosenfeld.
Additionally, Paramount tosses in almost two-dozen deleted, extended or alternate scenes, three cheesy music videos from the 1980s and screen tests.
However, despite the great price, it’s far from the definitive edition. Tons of extras from previous releases such as tributes to the late Swayze and Orbach, an optional onscreen trivia track and the televised “Dirty Dancing” concert are not included.
Furthermore, Paramount should have really done a definitive digital restoration of the classic Americana movie with an updated digital soundtrack.
Only then, would a hard-core fan exclaim, “I’ve had the time of my life.” OK, I’m a cheese ball.