Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

Pre-castro Cuba, circa 1958 — and the Latin dance beat is hotter, so why does this so-called companion piece to 1987's Dirty Dancing fail to ignite? Maybe it's familiarity. In Dirty Dancing, set in a Catskills resort in the early 1960s, older man Patrick Swayze taught Baby (Jennifer Grey) about dance and sex in ways that shocked her Jewish parents and titillated teens, who still gobble up the film on DVD. In the new film, Y Tu Mama Tambien stud muffin Diego Luna plays a Cuban waiter who teaches hot moves to blond, babyish Katey (Romola Garai), to the horror of her uptight American parents (Sela Ward and John Slattery), who don't like all that sweaty, touchy-feely dancing. And what's up with Swayze, 51, showing up to play a younger version of his character? Luna and Garai struggle to look like they're having the time of their life. But the movie, more wan than wicked, proves you can't go home again.

February 25, 2004

From The Archives Issue 232: February 10, 1977