Sign up for our newsletters   

Baltimore City Paper home.

film Home > Movie Reviews

Film Clips

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights

Director:Guy Ferland
Cast:Romola Garai, John Slattery, Sela Ward, Diego Luna
Screen Writer:Guy Ferland
Genre:Musical, Romance

By Wendy Ward | Posted

Remember 1987's Dirty Dancing, with Baby (pre-nose job Jennifer Grey) getting outta her corner and getting it on with Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) via some deep pelvis salsa/ballroom/whatever? That classic tale (no, really, ask around) of class, youth, dance, sexual awakening, and the eventual end of first love has just gotten sexier and more colorful, with better music and the best-looking brown eyes on the screen--sorry, Johnny Depp--in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

Little Miss Wide-Eyes Katey Vendetto (Romola Garai, a fleshier, real-girl version of Cameron Diaz) moves to Havana with her family 'cause Daddy Vendetto (played in a fatherly haze by John Slattery) got a job there; Mommy Vendetto (an icy Sela Ward, leaking just the right amount of motherly bitterness) has nothing better to do than lunch and tennis dates with the other American wives at the luxury hotel. It's 1958, do you know where your revolution is? It's brewing right around the corner, naturalmente, along with classism and racism, what with all those Americans on vacation or business and all those Cubans working the hotel circuit.

Eighteen-year-old smarty-pants Katey sports scholastic dreams, cute summer frocks, and a very modern worldview. When her father's boss' daughter (Polly Cusumano) calls hotel waiter Javier Suarez (played by the fucking delicious Diego Luna of Y Tu Mamé También fame) a "stupid spic," Katey gets her white cotton panties all in a bunch and jumps to his defense. Befriending the blonde gets Javier fired, but hey, there's always impromptu dancing on the Cuban streets. And when Katey's pop's boss' son (Jonathan Jackson) gets a li'l forward at an underground club, she seeks the comfort and protection of a sweaty Javier. Ladies, the man can dance, and Katey spends hours learning after she figures out a way to save him and his family: a dance contest, with a grand prize of money and a trip to the States. Let the sexy dance begin.

The film's music is infectious--although so many of the Cuban nightclub acts sing in English that it feels like a Saturday Night Live skit--and Javier moves like nobody's business in his white wife-beater, belted flat-front trousers, and open short-sleeve cotton Panama shirt. Combined with Katey's shirtwaists, sundresses with slippery straps, and tulle slips, not to mention her strappy open-toed sandals, and the two paint a pretty young couple you can't help but root for. It is easy to hold your breath waiting for their first kiss, their first moment in the cabana, etc. If Havana doesn't get your ass moving in your theater seat, you best check your pulse. Certain hearts are still beating.

Comments powered by Disqus
CP on Facebook
CP on Twitter