Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights


(out of 5)

Add a little salsa to the original mix and you basically have a humdrum remake of the 1987 sleeper hit. This time, the uninitiated young woman () is the daughter of a Ford Motors executive who moves with her family to a just-pre-revolutionary Cuba. There she is introduced to the high society of other American bigwigs and their snobby sons and daughters, but the boy who catches her eye is (naturally) from the wrong side of the tracks. He is a busboy (Y Tu Mama Tambien‘s , who couldn’t be more appealing) with killer dance moves that inspire her to ask him as partner in a big hotel contest that could win them both a lot of money. The young faces in this film are fresh and adorable, with Garai’s few missteps the only drawbacks in generally congenial performance. The narrative naturally leaves a lot to be desired, and is even audacious enough to claim to be a true story when really it closely resembles every other ‘let’s put on a show’ movie ever made. The best thing going for this exercise in marketing is the fabulous soundtrack, which pounds through the speakers with lively Cuban music but then insults its audience by using some anachronistic selections that take one immediately out of the experience and make it obvious who the film’s target audience is. The unassuming, spontaneous quality that made the original so memorable is not in evidence here, rather it’s an opportunity to simply cash in on a trend. Rent Dance With Me starring Chayanne and Vanessa Williams instead; its story is just as lame but the music and dancing are much better and in higher supply.  has a cameo as a dance instructor, while  is absolutely lovely (too lovely, in fact she outshines her daughter) as the heroine’s conflicted mother.

Lions Gate Films, Miramax, Lawrence Bender Productions, A Band Apart, Havana Nights LLC, Artisan Entertainment

USA, 2004

Directed by

Story by , , Screenplay by

Cinematography by

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by ,

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