Another dirty dance…

All right. “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” (Lions Gate Films). Try to keep up. Katey (Romola Garai), the nerdy high school senior, is taken from her safe 1958 suburban white lifestyle and moved to Cuba with her family. Socially awkward, she befriends the other white Americans for about 10 minutes before discovering the cute Cuban waiter, Javier (Diego Luna).

The clear lead in this film, Luna takes the audience into the interesting world of Cuban dancing and the revolutionary reality surrounding it. Discovering that Javier’s world is the true Cuba, Katey proceeds to learn the “forbidden dancing,” with Javier as her guide at Havana’s darker dance clubs, all the while hiding her activities from her family and the other American cultural elites.

Ultimately, Katey persuades Javier to partner with her for the ultimate national dance competition at The Palace. Together, they hope to win by combining her Cha Cha with Javier’s wild Cuban Libido, I mean, Lambada. Oh the scandal, the suspense, the excitement!

The movie follows the clich teen drama model; it should have been a Lifetime special rather than a cinematic endeavor. Katey’s struggle to discover who she is by challenging societal norms is admirable, but completely uninteresting given the fact that she isn’t even attractive. Scenes involving Cuban locals dancing are entertaining because they provided the only substantial glimpses of skin, but they are few and far between. Basically, scenes that involve no plot advancement or character development are the strongest parts of the film. And in an age of freaking, this type of dancing doesn’t have any shock value. To the film’s credit, though, the cinematography is well done, and I had a strong urge to visit Cuba after I left the theater.

The gem of this waste of time was two cameos by Patrick Swayze as a dance instructor. While Swayze didn’t have the substantive lines of the original movie – “Nobody puts Baby in a corner” – it was nice to know that the guy still has some sort of career (emphasis on “some sort of”).

I would suggest saving your money and watching a Travel Channel special about Cuba, because the only good thing that can come out of “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights” would be a re-ignition of Swayze’s career so he can finally make “Roadhouse 2.”

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