By Jen Chaney
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 4, 2010; 12:00 AM
Nearly 23 years after Johnny Castle first yanked Baby out of her corner and twirled her into the spotlight, "Dirty Dancing" still boasts a wide, passionate and primarily female fan base. Which is why -- despite the fact that the Patrick Swayze hip-grinder has already been released multiple times on DVD -- yet another version has been issued, just in time for last-minute Mother's Day shopping.
The "Dirty Dancing: Limited Keepsake Edition" -- out on DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray ($34.99) today -- marks the first version of the summer-in-the-Catskills romance released since Swayze's death last year of pancreatic cancer. Both two-disc sets make a point of acknowledging his passing with a 15-minute tribute to Swayze, as well as an In Memoriam montage that salutes several of the key "Dancing" players -- actors Jerry Orbach, Jack Weston, Max Cantor and director Emile Ardolino -- who have died since the film's 1987 release.
"Dirty Dancing" has demonstrated a tremendous amount of pop cultural staying power over the years. One obvious reason is that ladies can't resist its fairy tale love story about a gangly good girl (Jennifer Grey) and the gentle, bad-boy dance instructor (Swayze) who sees a beauty in her that she can't. Personally, though, I think it's the dancing that really sells it. Every choreographed moment -- from Johnny and Baby's meticulously rehearsed merengue routine to that climactic, "Time of My Life" finale -- still conveys a vibrancy and energy that makes us want to watch it all over again. (Find a Gen X woman who hasn't seen "Dirty Dancing" at least 20 times. Go on. I dare you.)
The question is whether hardcore fans -- the sort of people that pop up in a "fan reel" on the DVD that shows multiple images of beaming young ladies wearing "Nobody puts Baby in a corner" T-shirts -- should bother buying this Keepsake Edition. The answer: yes, but only if you don't already own a copy.
The set comes with several new extras, including featurettes about the movie's evolution and legacy; an interview with James and Julia Derbyshire, the UK couple who became a YouTube sensation after they did the movie's most memorable routine as their wedding dance; and a fun look at the Mountain Lake Hotel in Virginia, which was transformed into Kellerman's resort for the film and has since turned into a mecca for "Dirty Dancing" devotees. (A coupon offering a discounted rate on a Mountain Lake stay also has been cleverly inserted in the DVD package. Presumably people can redeem that during one of the hotel's "Dirty Dancing" weekends.)
Even during the "Reliving the Locations" featurette, the impact of Swayze's death can be felt; in that twelve-minute segment, we see footage of Mountain Lake visitors unveiling a stone dedicated in the actor's honor and located next to the lake where he and Grey practiced that famous lift. The aforementioned tribute to Patrick Swayze also offers some touching moments, including remembrances from Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi, and his brother Donny, who tearily refers to his departed sibling as a hero.
All told, it constitutes about an hour of decent new material, plus recycled stuff from past releases: a couple of commentary tracks, numerous deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, interviews and more. The DVD case bills it as "the most complete and collectible edition of 'Dirty Dancing' to date," which may be true, but only to those who haven't plunked down money to buy it before. For those who haven't, however, this set will undoubtedly do just fine ... at least until the next "Dancing" DVD comes along.