Though not for everyone, the 1987 film Dirty Dancing is an acknowledged and memorable film. Fourteen years later, Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze have been replaced by newcomers Romola Garai and Diego Lunda in the "sequel" Havana Nights.
As you may have guessed by now - or at least you hopefully did - Havana Nights is set in Cuba on the verge of Fidel Castro's rise to power. It is an age where Americans still dominated much of the tourist trade, and for the most part looked down on the local workers. Of course, that doesn't stop one high school girl who has been dragged to the city by her father from falling in love with a local boy and his way of dancing. As one might expect, their relationship fuels problems within her family.
Little can be said about this film, because you've probably already made up your mind as to whether you're going to see it or not. Few people saw it in theaters and that is because it is about as cliché as they come, with a predictable plot, predictable characters and a love story that isn't exactly the most engrossing. People who like dance - women especially - might be interested to see it; for the most part, guys should stay clear. It is your straight-laced lighthearted romance, but as the genre has proven time and time again, people like the same old thing.
As if it matters, the acting is decent enough, but not great. Garai is okay in the lead role, fairly sexy but still flaunting an innocence about her that makes her good for the role. She never overpowers on screen, however, and her performance here will be forgotten within a few days. Not much more can be said about Diego Luna, though I am a mild fan of him in general. He has shown some potential both in acting range and choices (recently Open Range and The Terminal), but this movie is an exception. He's not bad, but he isn't very good either, and I can't really call this film a "good choice."
For those of you interested in the dancing - and if you're still reading this review you probably are - it is fairly impressive. There are several good dance sequences, though the final "competition" scene is rather disappointing.
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is a harmless little movie that gives little reason to like it, but little reason to dislike it as well. Only those interested in cheesy romantic dance movies should watch it, but it isn't so bad.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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