Dirty Dancing – 35th Anniversary Edition (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

A staple of the Lionsgate home video catalog has been Dirty Dancing releases. Though it be DVD, Blu-ray or 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray, this is one of the titles they’ll repackage discs countlessly. Last year, it debuted on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray in a limited edition steelbook, exclusive to Best Buy. Well, now it will be consumable for the masses on the optimal format. On August 23rd, you’ll be able to purchase the film’s 35th Anniversary Edition in a standard amaray case with a slipcover featuring some new key art. All the bonus features, menu art and yada yada remain the same as the one that came out on its 34th anniversary. If you missed out or didn’t know about that one, well, here we are with the regular bells and whistles version. You can pre-order yourself a copy of this edition by using the the paid Amazon Associates link after the review.



Originally posted on 2/7/2017

The summer of 1963. Innocent 17-year-old Baby vacations with her parents at a Catskill’s resort.  One evening she is drawn to the staff quarters by stirring music.  There she meets Johnny, the hotel dance instructor, who is as experienced as Baby is naive.  Baby soon becomes Johnny’s pupil, in dance and love.

There’s no denying that Dirty Dancing is one of the most iconic films of the 1980s.  With a television miniseries adaptation, its obviously also still very popular enough and relevant today.  Iconography and years of obsessive viewing and fandom can lead to a film’s detriment as well.  Many people who haven’t actually seen Dirty Dancing, probably feel like they already have just from its place in pop culture and numerous conversation and celebration over the years.  Legendary films like Saturday Night Fever, Jaws and Rocky also carry that distinguished labeling.

What many will miss, is that beyond the music, beyond the quotable lines, beyond the montages, beyond the Swazye…Dirty Dancing is actually a pretty strong film in its own right.  Showing progressive values, avoiding cliched romantic comedy and drama motifs, building believable relationships and displaying a talent for dance choreography with filmmaking, its surprisingly a better and smarter movie than its really ever takes credit for.  This movie is better than reciting “Nobody puts baby in a corner” to your friends and snickering.

Slipping past many that don’t know the film very well (And likely some of its biggest fans, too) is what actually sets the film’s plot off into motion and why everything is happening in this movie in the first place.  A back alley abortion is the crux of Dirty Dancing.  Its everything to it.  And its during both a time in the film and it’s release where this subject is completely taboo (Sadly, still is today).  You have the early 1960s and then the Reagan 80s.  Its incredible this film broke through and became the popular movie it is today with this whole story intact.  What’s interesting too is that, while the film makes light that its not something of an approved action, it sorta goes casual over the whole thing, especially when they could have had Jerry Orbach’s Jake Houseman give a lecture or go on a tirade about it.

One of the hindsight things that people poke fun at the movie for is that Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) is much older than Baby and their hook up is statutory rape.  While Swayze was 34 at the time they shot the film, he’s playing a 25 year old.  Baby is 17 in the film.  That’s an 8 year difference. In real life the actors were roughly 7 years apart. Also in real life, couple Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively have an 11 year difference.  But she’s 17? Well, age of consent differs by state, with many of them citing 16 as the age.  I feel really odd writing about this in my Dirty Dancing review, but I was curious as to whether this poke of fun or disgust at the movie holds any merit.  And really, it doesn’t at all.

Let’s get back to something more fun with the film. The soundtrack.  I love that the score plays as one big build up to “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” rocking out in the finale.  There is a lot weighing on that Academy Award winning song to be great. I mean, what if the song was a complete failure?  This film almost predicates and gambles hard on this song carrying its finale. The dancing is one thing, but if the song you made for the film is bad, then this movie spins out of control and crashes.  Luckily, everybody know this damn song now and you can’t not hear it or see something from the movie and think about it.

Dirty Dancing‘s tunes didn’t stop there though.  The movie starts out by pulling on nostalgia strings and playing hits of the oldies.  But, the way they are used in the film sheds a new light to them and gives them a different appeal when put with dancing and visuals not really associated with those songs prior.  Not only does it have those songs, but it bounces out newer, modern hits like “Hungry Eyes” and “She’s Like the Wind”.  These very 80s sounding songs are woven in such away your forget to question why the hell 80s music is leading the charge of a film set in the 1960s.  Which, I also want to point out that both Johnny Castle and Marty McFly share the distinction of 1980s protagonists in the past that save the day by playing songs that came from the future.

Performance-wise, the movie is solid.  Jennifer Grey is a bit rough around the edges here, but it works for her part.  Cynthia Rhodes turns in some awesome work here, while looking absolutely on fire in the film.  While the movie isn’t anything to write home about, she was good in Staying Alive and continues to bring that even more here.  Patrick Swayze, the more I revisit his older work, the more I see that I didn’t appreciate him enough while he was around.  This is probably his most iconic role, and it goes beyond teen girl crushes and the movie’s popularity.  He’s damn good.  Swayze has a role that might’ve been weak on paper, but elevates it into a fully function, completely 3-dimensional and real to life character.  Not to mention that the man has skills as a dancer and musician to boot.  This movie truly encapsulates all his talents at once.

While I give Swayze some credit over the script, I need to give due diligence to the writing.  It avoids pitfalls and traps of romance movies at every turn.  This screenplay allows for characters to act as adults and to just be kids and adults and not invoke silly, unwarranted developments and B-plots for the sake of “drama”.  What I really appreciate is that there is no love triangle between Baby, Johnny and Penny. You feel that this is exactly where the film is headed.  But, no, they are allowed to just be friends. There is no jealousy from Penny and when Baby shows up at Penny’s after a fight with Johnny and he’s there its just accepted that he went to talk about it with his close friend.

Eleanor Bergstein’s script features many more of these elements and we truly should look to and respect Dirty Dancing for not once falling into that trap and allowing the characters to make human and decent decisions rather than ones that could just create more obnoxious drama.  With character, Johnny is also that “bad boy” type, but Bergstein allows him to be human, reveal his insecurities and really show that what Baby saw was just an image that she crafted and not him. Bergstein’s screenplay allows for a sole focus on our characters, their relationship and the challenges to move the one simple plot toward the finish line.

Among all the things I’ve just analyzed, Dirty Dancing is still a cute and fun movie.  Its lasting qualities and constant watching have allowed us to flow into nostalgia for goofier moments, overuse of lines we’ve heard over and over and maybe pulling things out of context to look or sound funny.  Truth be told, its also a better film than you probably think it is.  While there are images, songs, moments, lines we remember, the film itself is good enough to hold its title as one of the most iconic of the 1980s.  I was very young when the movie came out, but its one I never really forgot even though I’ve seen it a mere handful of times and not very often.  The soundtrack was ingrained in my brain as well as many of the dance moments.  Its a film standing the test of time and garnering new fans with each passing year, and deservedly so.


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Dirty Dancing dazzles in its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray makeover. The movie now is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ration as opposed to the 1.78:1 the 30th anniversary edition Blu-ray went for when that came out. It carries a very filmic look to it, with a nice layer of grain, which increases the depth of the picture. Colors also come across a lot more striking in a more natural way. Overall, with increased fine details, clarity and sharpness, this is easily the biggest jump in quality the film has had on home video since going from VHS to the DVD format.

Depth:  This one has really opened the film up with a terrific sense of scale for the exteriors as well as the big ballroom interiors that experience a very nice pushback. Lots of space and free movement on screen. Said movements are smooth and cinematic with no issues regarding motion distortion.

Black Levels: Blacks levels are where the image has seen plenty of improvement, with the new transfer able to naturalize and help a lot in the darkened room scenes as well as the shadows. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors carry an almost to the touch look to them. There’s a nice saturation and contrast to the black levels that help to bolden them and bring them out a bit more. Colorful filters as well as neon signs, room lights and more get a nice added glow or sting from the HDR.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish of the film. The facial features and textures are discernible from any reasonable distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Stereo Theatrical Mix Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: Dirty Dancing features a much needed and improved experience in the audio department for its 4K release. This Atmos mix is raucous and ready to party. It has much more life and prominence to it in every angle. Great balance between the bumping, the effects and the vocals to really bring it right to you in the viewing area. There’s some great work done on the depth and layering here that every environment feels quite lived in, even in the more quiet moments.

Height: From above, the contributions are more natural and help build ambiance as well as enhance the score and music in the film. There are some neat touches here and there, but nothing quite extravagant.

Low Frequency Extension: There is a quite a bump here that almost feels like perfect precision when it comes to the music in the film. Its never felt better watching this movie and the pop here from the subwoofer is a nice contributor. Sound effects and such give a nice accurate, if not slightly heightened rumble.

Surround Sound Presentation: Every room – from bug noises outside, to quiet echoes in a cabin to crowds and dishes clinging – has a life and is a 360 degree feel when watching the film. This is a pretty good, big and precise mix here that imagines a bigger feel for the film in the most complimentary of ways.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear, crisp and quite nice and up front.


Dirty Dancing – 35th Anniversary Edition comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a redeemable digital code. The discs, therefore the bonus materials, are identical to the Best Buy exclusive steelbook release from 2021.


Audio Commentary

  • With Writer/Co-Producer Eleanor Bergstein
  • With Kenny Ortega, Miranda Garrison, Jeff Jur, Hilary Rosenfeld and David Chapman

Establishing Shot (4K, 12:59)

Theatrical Trailer (4K, 2:24)


Happy Birthday, Dirty Dancing (HD, 29:19) 

Patrick Swayze: In His Own Words (HD, 12:52)

Eleanor Bergstein: Thoughts on a Lifetime of Dirty Dancing (HD, 6:40)

Patrick Swayze Uncut (HD, 13:34) 


  • Dirty Dancing: The Phenomenon (SD, 13:45) 
  • The Rhythm of the Dancing (SD, 4:08) 

Music Videos

  • Hungry Eyes (SD, 3:54) 
  • She’s Like the Wind (SD, 3:59) 
  • (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life (SD, 4:51) 

Cast & Crew Interviews

  • Jennifer Grey (SD, 11:14)
  • Eleanor Bergstein (SD, 18:38) 
  • Miranda Garrison (SD, 13:19) 
  • Kenny Ortega (SD, 15:23) 

Deleted Scenes (SD, 11:53)

Extended Scenes (SD, 7:50) 

Alternate Scenes (SD, 2:40) 

Screen Tests & Outtakes

  • Jennifer Grey Screen Test Comparisons – Baby Blackmails Lisa, Baby Confronts Dad
  • Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey Screen Text Montage
  • Outtakes (SD, :38)


Dirty Dancing continues to be a film far more deep and interesting than its pop culture footprint suggests. The 4K upgrade on the film is a significant jump over what we’ve had before. Over the years, the film has loaded itself up on quality extras, so the lack of anything new is A-Ok. If you bought the steelbook from Best Buy last year, hold onto it and pass on this release (Packaging aside, they’re identical). Those who don’t have it, be sure to pick it up!

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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