An Ode to Underrated Sequels

Movie sequels only get attention before they come out. Hype about the second of a great movie coming out lasts only the period of time before the movie hits the big screen. Then it dies faster than it arrived.

This was the case with the second Dirty Dancing movie. People forgot about Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights so fast, I’m sure it made the stars’ heads spin.

The first Dirty Dancing was a hit; the story of Johnny and Baby was one that has lasted the years. To this day, “Time of Your Life” brings back memories of the film. The movie is even a theme in a new television show featuring Zooey Deschanel; recently dumped, she watches Dirty Dancing on repeat until she feels better.

But Dirty Dancing 2 faded quickly. But I think this sequel deserves a second chance. Here are my reasons.

1) The story. It is a typical love story; I admit that readily. A blonde gringa moves to Cuba in the period just before the 1959 revolution, and falls in love with a native Cubano. Typical, yes. But it is accurate, painfully so. The story depicts more than just the lead girl’s first time in love. It shows the disparity and discrimination in the lives of whites in Cuba and the lives of los cubanos clearly. Katey, a naïve high school is unwise to the relations between white businessmen and the working-class Cubans who work the hotels the Americans populate. In falling in love with Diego she gets her first dose of the real world, and learns firsthand the sociopolitical problems Cuba faced in the 1950s. Underlying the typical girl-meets-boy-falls-in-love plot, the viewer is exposed to all facets of the period surrounding the Cuban revolution.

2) The music. The film features music from the Black Eyed Peas, Orishas, and Christina Aquilera. It runs in the vein of bachata music from the Caribbean. The exotic twist to the songs featured transport the viewer to a country they have never been able to experience first-hand. My favorite song from the movie is Represent, Cuba by Orishas. The band is a Cuban hip hop group based in France. It is also one of my favorite foreign bands.

3) The dancing. As the love story develops between Katey and Javier, so does the dancing. It starts out tame, and becomes more spirited and risqué throughout the movie. Some of the best dancing takes place at the club, La Rosa Negra. You see the “king” and “queen” of La Rosa Negra take dancing to a whole new level of intimacy and sensuality. And while Katey and Javier  pass through the levels of a dance competition, you see them become more and more skilled dancers. The story climaxes during the heat of the dance competition concludes. The final dance scene between Katey and Javier takes place at La Rosa Negra, and the viewers see the two as the “king” and “queen” of the club.

4) The exoticism. Cuba is literally off-limits to Americans, making a view Dirty Dancing 2 the perfect escape for Americans bored with the typical film productions. Between the dancing, the music, the tropical setting, and the overall sensuality of the film, viewers cannot help but be transported to a place they can’t have known before.

I can’t promise the movie will do for you what it did for me, but I would say it’s worth watching once. Let me know what you think! Also, what are your favorite travel-films? Let me know in the comments section.

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