Friday, August 19, 2011

Nobody Puts Baby in the Remake

Two years ago, I came back from vacation to news that John Hughes had died. That should have taught me to read a newspaper while at the beach, but no—instead I had to spend six days trying to beat the world record in cheese consumption and posing as a cover model for an imaginary pregnancy issue of Garden & Gun.

That’s why I was shocked to discover, upon my return, that another 80s icon is about to die a slow and painful death.

Yes, folks, they are remaking Dirty Dancing.

I know. I’ll wait for you to apologize to whomever you just slapped.

Anyway, apparently Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights was not enough of an assault on my childhood memories (I was indoctrinated early, by my aunt, at age 8, and had choreographed an interpretive dance to the entire soundtrack by the following year). No, now DD has to get the Footloose treatment, i.e. a remake with no colon and shitty subtitle to distinguish it from the original.

I realize that director Kenny Ortega doesn't need or want my input, but I've decided to drag out my casting couch anyway, to assemble what I think is an ensemble that will both please the young'uns (who weren't even born when The Lift That Launched A Thousand Amateur Copycat Injuries unspooled on movie screens) and placate the aging die-hards.

So, first things first: Frances “Baby” Houseman. I’m going on record here to say that if Lea Michele gets this part I will carry a watermelon all the way to her house, set it on fire, and lob it over the electrified fence. Ditto Kristen Stewart. The only acceptable Baby is someone who has more expressions in her arsenal than “facial jazz hands” or “sullen nostril-flaring.” A non-traditional beauty like Jennifer Grey would be nice, but we all know that if Jennifer Grey started her career today with her original nose, the best she could hope for is a walk-on as one of Blair Waldorf’s minions in Gossip Girl. So I’ll be realistic and accept that they’re going to want someone sexier. The most obvious Jews are Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Rachel Bilson (P.S. I had to Google “young hot Jewish actress” for research, which I’m sure puts me on some government watch list), but they’re all too cutesy. Baby needs to be convincingly awkward. Which is why I nominate…

Kat Dennings.

"I'm scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I'm with you!"
She’s smoking hot, and a little on the old side for the role (she’s 25), but she’s got a nerdy, mature vibe that jibes with Baby's feminist intellectual leanings

The next most important casting choice, obvi, is Johnny “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” Castle. I know that Hollywood is going to be knocking on the doors of all of those shrimpy, testoster-phony tweeners like Zac Efron and Taylor Lautner and those beefy Australian Hemsworth brothers who look like Children of the Corn raised on L.L. Bean and steroids. But Johnny Castle is supposed to be man (I’m guessing 25-ish to Baby’s 17, although the late, great Swayze was 35 when he made the movie), so I think we can do better, and at least find someone whose pubes have come in. (And someone besides Channing Tatum, please. There have got to be other actors who can both dance and lift weights.)

I’m kind of feeling Ryan Gosling for this. I know he’s not super muscular and I’ve never seen him merengue, but I think he could really pull off that sexy bad boy from the wrong side of the Catskills thing, no? And look, I picked the most flattering photo to argue my point:

"You just put your pickle on everybody's plate, college boy, and leave the hard stuff to me."
As for the supporting cast:
  • Bryan Cranston as Dr. JakeHouseman...
"When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong." (Except when I'm cooking crystal to pay for my secret cancer treatments.)
Jerry Orbach was hard fucking core, and so is Walter White. He will go all Heisenberg on your ass if you step to his daughter, Gosling, so respect.
  • Blake Lively as Penny, the knocked-up dance teacher who spends most of the movie being an asshat...
"God wouldn't have given you maracas if He didn't want you to shaaaaaake 'em!" 
This casting choice will appeal to the teenage set, and there's nothing Lively does better than look vaguely slutty and distressed.
  • Lea Michele can be Lisa Houseman, because the whole point of Lisa is that she's annoying as fuck
"Oh, my God. Look at that! Ma, I should have brought those coral shoes!"
  • Donald Glover as Billy Kostecki...
"She's knocked up, Baby." (Okay, so Billy maybe doesn't have the best lines.)
  • Betty White and Alan Arkin as the kleptomaniac Schumachers...
They deserve bigger parts, anyway.
  • Jessie Eisenberg as Neil Kellerman...
"I have to say it. I'm known as the catch of the county."
  • Justin Timberlake as Robbie the creep...
"I didn't blow a summer hauling toasted bagels just to bail out some little chick who probably balled every guy in the place."
  • ...and Susan Lucci as that insatiable cougar who sleeps with Robbie.

Ta-da! You are totally welcome, universe. What do you think? Am I onto something? Or should I just bite my tongue and face the inevitable: Miley Cyrus, Zac Efron, and his man-bangs singing "This Overload" while popping and locking?



  1. christine walker8:39 AM

    I think these are totally excellent casting choices (really!) and I too will be sorely disappointed if the likes of Miley, Zac or any of those other ones get in this remake.

    I loved Dirty Dancing!! I even saw the tour and I tried my darndest to get chosen to go onstage to dirty dance with the pros! OMG, I don't want my memories cheesed up more than they already are with a new version of the movie.

    Susan Lucci and JT--brilliant.

  2. This post made me fall in love, die, come back to life and fall in love again. I've been distraught since i heard about this movie. Especially since I always thought I would play baby in a remake since i was four years old. I've been practicing my merengue for that long! But this casting choice is amazing. I'll see this movie. Thank you for making life okay again. ( :

  3. Claudia8:48 AM

    I have my own personal religion (scary way to start a comment) which consists of the Trinity: Stephen Fry, Tim Gunn, and Barbra Streisand. Tim Wonnacott (who you probably don't know, but would enjoy) is the conduit; my pope, if you will. There are others, but I've frightened you enough; well, almost enough as I'm choosing to add you to the altar of awesomeness at which I worship. I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy! *need to work out how to include Wayne and Garth into church ceremony...*

  4. Ryan Gosling is actually the PERFECT choice for Johnny Castle. If you go and see Crazy Stupid Love (which you should run and do right now. Seriously, I'll wait), you will see why.

    I like where you're going with Lea Michele, though (from what I've heard) I doubt she'd agree to play third banana.

  5. I'm feeling all of these, except I think Ellen Page would make a fantastic Baby. Don't know if she can dance tho.

  6. The idea of the remake is just saddening to me in general, but if they're going to do it I think they should follow your list. Especially Susan Lucci, that is by far the best of all of them. Now if I'm going to watch the movie is another story.

  7. I'm on board with this, although I've never been a fan of Ryan G, I'm willing to try it out.

  8. Anonymous10:09 AM

    I gasped at your entire supporting cast...i take issue with baby and johnny. everyone else is PERFECTTTT lea michele as lisa is a stroke of genius, and walt as dr houseman...he just needs to play every role ever from here on out. Laura Linney as the mom? I bet she can play that role of dim yet open to getting sexy with panache. Maybe it could be a waste of her talent though...

    I'm thinking for johnny Joe Magnaniello from True Blood. he's got the BROOD! and the BOD! if he can dance it'd be perfect. I can see him turning his head abruptly and in an exasperated tone utter "I'm out, Baby"

    The part of Baby is still up in the air for me...but my gods, I've never seen such an inspired casting list...who knows a guy that can send this to a guy????

    Ooo, who suggested Ellen Page? I don't think she has enough sex appeal...but she's great otherwise. I just don't think she can pull off a sexy scene? because that sex scene needs to be ON POINT! complete with that almost peek of Patrick Swayze's goods...that I always tilt my head to try to see close, every time.

  9. these are so genius. every one is just right. i am so impressed and would TOTALLY see this movie.

  10. Brilliant. positively.

  11. Anonymous12:46 PM

    I was 12 when I first saw Dirty Dancing and spent most of my teenage years waiting for Johnny Castle to stride through the door and rescue me from my high school hell. I went through my own mourning last week when I read the depressing news, but your casting choices have given me hope that the remake might not totally suck.

    I'm not sold on Ryan Gosling as Johnny, but could totally see Joe Magnaniello in that role. Any role that requires him to spend much of the movie shirtless is fine with me.

  12. okay i was FUCKING PISSED (yes, all caps required) to hear that there was a remake of this in the works. i was completely prepared to boycott it until the day i died.

    HOWEVER. if this was the cast, i'd watch the hell out of the movie. seriously. if someone from hollywood is trolling the net (and we know they are) PAY ATTENTION.

  13. if they don't consult you they have problems...clearly you = casting brilliance

  14. nailed it! i'd pay to see anything with ryan gosling in it.

  15. LOVE it! But what about Ortega's comment on SYTYCD that Melanie had a role in the movie if she wanted it...maybe they'd actually cast someone who isn't already repped by WME or CAA.

    Stupid remakes. Good ideas. :)

  16. I'm really hoping the casting director has a stressful day and googles "who should I cast in the dirty dancing remake". this would be awesome.
    I'm always against remakes in general but hey, I totally loved havana nights. I love pretty much any movie with dancing in it so I know I'll see this. It'll never compare to the original though.

  17. Ryan Gosling is PERFECT!!!! He can already do the lift and everything!! Somebody better be taking note of this!

  18. NAILED IT. If it had your cast I would actually pay money to see it. And believe me, that's a big complement.

  19. Anonymous8:48 PM

    baby cant be kat whatshername!! no-no-no. ...ryan is ripped but he's short - i love the rest tho, especially lucci! ha!!

  20. Evan Newell9:12 PM

    I was just going to echo the Ryan Gosling pick.

    First of all. He's pretty ripped. Even your photo depicts it.
    But I am also pusuaded by the fact that he already has auditioned for this part in Crazy Stupid Love.
    Which I really enjoyed.
    It seems you haven't seen it.
    Quick before baby consumes your life!

  21. This is amazing! (not that they're remaking it--that is obviously a horror). But your well-thought-out cast at least gets the same feel of the classic. I hope they listen to you instead of screaming pre-pubescents.

  22. Feeling the Kat Dennings choice. Surely there's room for a Lin-Manuel Miranda in there too, no?

  23. one word 'brilliant'!!!

  24. Anonymous12:47 AM

    How about Lauren Graham as Mrs. Houseman? (My only reasoning: original Mrs. Houseman = Emily Gilmore, therefore new Mrs. Houseman = Lorelei Gilmore. Makes perfect sense, right?)

  25. Thank you for an incredibly funny and witty post. I laughed at your descriptions ( very succinct) and agree wholeheartedly. Hopefully Hollywood will take a cue from you =)

  26. the idea that there remaking dirty dancing made me mad when i first found out. the reason is because i figure they'll cast some terrible actors and make it just suck. of coarse the dirty dancing in this will be way different from the original movie. im sorry i dont want to see people dry humping each other and stuff.yes that is some of the stuff they do in the now a days dirty danceing. i think dirty dancing is one of those movies they should never be remade. anyway your idea of a cast would be pretty cool though in it

  27. The ONLY way a remake of DD will be acceptable is if the actors/actesses you've chosen are cast. Otherwise, I'm going to pretend it didn't even happen. Just like with that second DD, it didn't happen. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights? Isn't that a porno??...

  28. Anonymous2:03 AM

    Oh Snap! I hadn't heard! What next? Footloose?

  29. Anonymous7:45 AM

    Excellent casting choices for an infuriating idea. Jesse Eisenberg tops off your brilliance. If they cast Natalie Portman, I will scream. (And play the original on loop as for as I long as I did from fourth-sixth grade.)


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