The original film, released in 1987, blended a classic coming-of-age story with a dance-drenched romance, as good girl Baby (Jennifer Grey) finds herself defying her family after meeting dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze). Set in the ’60s, it’s been an iconic favorite for 30 years, so of course it’s natural to be curious (and maybe even a little skeptical) of ABC’s remake, which premieres May 24.
The new film is three hours long (with commercials) and, rather than let the soundtrack speak for itself, translates “Do You Love Me?” and “Time of My Life” into literal musical numbers performed by the cast, which includes Abigail Breslin, Debra Messing, Bruce Greenwood, Nicole Scherzinger, Sarah Hyland, Tony Roberts, Katey Sagal, Billy Dee Williams and relative newcomer Colt Prattes as bad-boy-with-a-good-heart Johnny Castle.
The addition of literal singing and dancing isn’t the only major change — the expanded run time means that the scope of the film extends well beyond Baby’s (played in the remake by Breslin) limited point of view. This means we get a peek inside the troubled marriage of Baby’s parents (Messing and Greenwood), Baby’s sister Lisa (Hyland) gets more character development as well as a full-on a love interest and Sagal, as “bungalow bunny” Vivian Pressman, gets a full-on musical number of her own.
The addition of these new storylines does give the remake some more substance, and while Breslin makes for a very different sort of Baby than Grey, she has a sweetly innocent charm that makes the role very much her own. That said, after watching it, the memory of the original film is inescapable, in part because director Wayne Blair, in many scenes, directly invokes it. Take, for example, Baby and Johnny’s first time together:
For more side-by-side comparisons, check out the gallery attached above (and linked here). Will the new version find its own fanbase? We’ll find out May 24.