|TAKE THE LEAD (2006)|
|"I'd kill to dance like that. It's like sex on hardwood."|
|Time: 108 mins.|
SYNOPSIS: A former professional dancer volunteers to teach dance in the New York public school system. While his background first clashes with his students' tastes, together they create a completely new style of dance.
BOTTOM LINE: There are only two reasons to see this film: if you truly love dance movies and deeply love Antonio Banderas. (Both are the reason it got an extra half star from me.) There's certainly nothing at all new about the concept a privileged outsider/teacher comes into an inner city high school and changes the lives of the biggest losers and yet this film manages to instill both reality (their home lives) and fantasy (the dancing) into the proceedings with class and intelligence. Banderas seems to be having fun with his role and it's easy to see how his love of dancing could inspire these kids. Though the plot is rich with cliches, the young actors playing these overdone roles play them with real heart and honesty, making you care about what happens to them. Of course, all the "drama" takes away from time on the dance floor and that's mainly what most viewers are coming to see. The bringing together of the classic ballroom and hip-hop steps is a joy to behold. The former gives style to all the rump shaking and the latter gives energy and originality to the staid, old-fashioned moves. The final dance sequence, at a citywide competition, is a masterful twist on the tango that will have your eyes popping out of your head with delight. The film ends as it should on a realistic note, leaving the viewer with a touch of hope and a need to move their feet. A fun way to pass the time, but not a film that you will likely remember for long.