"Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition" Blu-ray Review
June 02, 2010 by Zach Demeter
Dirty Dancing is perhaps one of the most popular films of all time and if the continued success, sales, and re-release of the film are any indication we will continue to see new merchandise for this film trickle out over the years. No doubt a resurged interest in the film is due to the sad and unfortunate passing of Patrick Swayze, but the film has enjoyed success through the years long before that as the meagerly budgeted film (a lowly $5 million) went on to rake in over $214 million worldwide from its original release up to its 20th Anniversary theatrical re-release. Now Lionsgate celebrates the film once again on Blu-ray with an all-new visual and audio transfer along with a whole host of extras, both old and new, in a limited “Keepsake Edition” that packs not only a pair of discs into the set but also a 52-page hardcover book and a coupon for $50 off a stay at the “real” Kellerman’s Resort in Virginia.
The Dirty Dancing phenomenon returns to captivate fans with the Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition. Just in time for Mother’s Day, the newly remastered DVD and Blu-ray Disc of this timeless film, includes all existing special features, plus over an hour of brand new bonus materials. These include a heartfelt Patrick Swayze tribute, three new featurettes; that take a look at the film locations, a look at the overwhelming popularity of the film and a previously recorded interview with Patrick Swayze discussing the music from the film and his personal contribution of “She’s Like the Wind,” as well as a Fan Reel gathered by Facebook fans. The DVD and Blu-ray edition will be housed in collectible packaging that includes a 52-page hardcover Dirty Dancing commemorative book plus a coupon for fifty dollars off a stay at the “real” Kellerman’s Resort (Mountain Lake Hotel in Virginia). In addition, the Blu-Ray Disc contains a digital copy of the film plus an exclusive featurette as well as a never before released stills gallery, Eleanor Bergstein’s Shooting Script and Dirty Dancing: Live in Concert. This new edition is a must-have for all loyal Dirty Dancing fans, and is a fond reflection of the late Patrick Swayze’s inspiring performance. Starring Golden Globe® nominees Jennifer Grey (Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy/Musical, 1988) as “Baby” Houseman, and Patrick Swayze (Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Dirty Dancing – Comedy/Musical, 1988) as the sexy Johnny Castle, Dirty Dancing is the story of a naïve girl who meets an experienced dance instructor and becomes his pupil both in dance and in love. The film, named one of the Top 10 Date Movies of all time according to an E! Entertainment Television poll, also features a hit-filled soundtrack including the Grammy® Award winning “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life.” This classic film continues to stand the test of time with audiences all over the world. Nobody will put this edition in the corner!
I thought to myself “well, I guess I’ll have to actually watch this film now” when it arrived at my doorstep. Once I put it in, however, I realized that I had apparently already seen a good majority of the film as the only thing that really seemed new to me was the whole abortion story, which I either never paid attention to or just conveniently missed whenever it would air on TV when either my sister or mom would watch it. Admittedly I’m not close to the audience of this film, but it’s such a classic it’s one of those films that you need to watch just to say you’ve seen it (and so you know why people smile every time someone says “Nobody puts Baby in the corner,” because it’s just weird when you’re standing around wondering what the hell everyone is talking about).
The story by now is timeless so I won’t bother recanting it, but I will dwell on the abortion element for a bit longer because I think it’s probably one of the more surprising elements to the film. The film is really just known for its title and music, but that whole abortion angle was the entire drive behind the film and quite frankly even by today’s standards using that as the main plot crutch is pretty rare (although I guess when a film from 1987 pulls it off and it gets to be as popular as this film has been, it’s pretty obvious where you jacked it from). Of course its films that tend to push the envelope (as minor as this film did) that stick around, but there’s also the whole sense of rebelling that this film executed so well. Plus, of course, the dancing and music was good too.
Overall…well, it’s Dirty Dancing. What else do you need to know?
As the ginormous synopsis above states, this is in a “collectible” package…which really just equates to it being larger than the rest of your other Blu-ray’s so it stands out. It’s a rather thick package, granted, and the lid comes off to reveal the goodies inside which range from the aforementioned hardcover book, coupon/voucher thing, and of course the discs themselves. It’s a very nicely done package, but I have to admit I wish they would’ve cut the height down as it’s about an inch taller than the average Blu-ray case (which means the size of the case is probably the same as the DVD release), so it stands out a little bit too much when you put it on the shelf with your other Blu-ray’s.
Of course the other option is to not get the set and stick with the old Blu-ray release but considering how poor the transfer was on this release, surely you’d want to trade up to the new re-mastered transfer? Well, yes and no because while the new transfer is definitely better than the original (from the comparison shots I’ve seen online at least), it still has a ways to go before it can really be considered great. The main issue likely stems from the source materials, as the image itself is just overly soft throughout the entire film which results in a real lack of detail. Occasionally something will creep through the haze, but for the most part it just looks like a cleaned up DVD transfer as there’s still a bland color palette and general lack of detail throughout the film.
The audio, a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix, is no better either. Once again you can likely blame the source material as the audio is really quite front focused and rarely expanding into the surrounds. In fact it’s very tin-canny at times and even the music, for which this film is known, comes through rather muted. It’s all incredibly disappointing I assure you, but it’s certainly not terrible…it just isn’t what you’d expect from re-mastered video and audio. Still better than what we had previously, just not by much.
Extras are a various mix of old and new. First up:
New to This Release
• “Kellerman’s: Reliving the Locations of the Film” featurette
• “Patrick Swayze Tribute” featurette
• “Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon” featurette
• In Memoriam
• Fan Reel
• “The Rhythm of the Dancing” featurette
• “Dancing to the Music” featurette
• Never-Before-Seen Stills Gallery
• Eleanor’s Personal Shooting Script
There’s about an hour’s worth of extras here, but for some inexplicable reason they’re all in standard definition (even the newly recorded material). I guess they didn’t want to toss in another Blu-ray to house all of the extras, but it’s a tad bit disappointing nonetheless. Still it’s a pretty great little collection of new extras to go along with the old (which was already pretty hefty). Speaking of which, making their triumphant return are the following:
• Audio commentary with Eleanor
• Vintage featurette
• Jennifer Grey Screen Test
• Audio commentary with Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman
• Jennifer Grey Interview
• Miranda Garrison Interview
• Kenny Ortega Interview
• Eleanor Interview
• Emile Ardolino Tribute
• “Hungry Eyes” Video
• “She’s Like the Wind” Video
• “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” Video
• Theatrical Trailer
• Trivia Track
• Original Screen Tests (Patrick & Jennifer)
• “Dirty Dancing with Patrick” featurette
• Tribute to Jerry Orbach
• Deleted Scenes
• Alternate Scenes
• Extended Scenes
• Multi-Angle Dance Sequence
• “The Classic Story On Stage” featurette
• Interactive Photo Gallery
• Dirty Dancing: Live in Concert
• HD Theatrical trailer
Yup, that’s a lot to look at…and it’s a great list, as there are really hours and hours worth of material to check out. It’s a shame that it, once again, is all in standard definition, but I guess they had to cut corners somewhere.
Overall a Recommended release for the fans just for the new material, but if you’re only a casual and are satisfied (somehow) with the old Blu-ray then there’s no real reason to upgrade. But diehards should really enjoy the package here.
Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.