Tuesday, April 11, 2006

TAKE THE LEAD - step away from the ticket booth and put your Visa card down

Once upon a time there was a great feel-good documentary called MAD HOT BALLROOM that did something few studios ever achieve: it told an unusual and interesting story that was emotionally engaging without being manipulative. The true story was about a bunch of inspired ball-room dance teachers that ran programmes in inner-city schools, and through teaching kids the basics of ball-room dancing, also taught them self-respect and respect for others. It really was a fantastic film. I guess it was inevitable that faced with an original story featuring cute kids and great music (for which read sound-track revenue) Hollywood would not take long to sink its teeth into the neck of MAD HOT BALLROOM, and here we have the ghastly result. TAKE THE LEAD is a horror of a movie - a sort of insipid, formulaic, glitzy re-packaging of a film whose success was largely down to its authenticity. By contrast, this plastic disaster is all PC cliche and no balls. Shame on Liz Friedlander (maker of videos) for agreeing to helm it. Shame on Dianne Houston (writer of nothing of note) for "novelising" the documentary. And yes, I admit, Antonio Banderas is one of the few men who could make ball-room dancing an aspirational activity for hardened kids, but no, his good performance still does not make this a film worth watching.

TAKE THE LEAD opened in the US on April 7th 2006 and opens in the UK on Friday. It opens in France on July 5th. However, you can do yourself a favour and just rent MAD HOT BALLROOM instead.


  1. I just watched it this last weekend, and I loved it. I've seen Mad Hot Ballroom as well, but I don't know if you can compare them. Whereas MHB was a documentary, just telling things how they were with no acting, TTL was a retelling of a true story of Pierre Dulane which did rely on actors to do the telling.

    I don't think you and I should ever watch movies together. :-)

    Now I want to go buy the soundtrack.

  2. Hey Carrie, I am so pleased you enjoyed it. You know, I just love cinema, so I am all happy whenever anyone loves a movie! I did think Banderas was good. And what do I know? I went to see Basic Instinct 2 yesterday and rather enjoyed it!

  3. I never saw the first Basic Instinct, so I don't really have much of an idea of what the plot even is.

    I respect your movie likings. However, if I ever visit Nik in London and we hang out, we should opt for NOT watching a movie. You don't like anything I like and I've never watched anything you like, lol.

    Let's opt for tea instead. :-)

  4. I totally agree :-) Anyways, you should definitely come visit London - there are lots of cool things to do other than watch movies, even if I never seem to get round to any of them.....!

  5. lol, yes. I've been to London overnight, we spent a few hours out and about, then slept in Heathrow. I'll come back when I have more time to spend, and somewhere other than an airport to sleep.