Take The Lead

2006-10-02 13:49


Take The Lead is based on the true story of ballroom dancing instructor Pierre Dulaine who brought his art into the classrooms of New York's inner city schools. Our story begins with Dulaine (Antonio Banderas) teaching at an exclusive dance studio in Manhattan. One night Dulaine witnesses a high school kid (Rob Brown) smashing up his principal's car. The next day Dulaine visits the principal (Alfre Woodard) and offers his services as a dance teacher in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of the kids by instilling them with discipline and self-respect. Dulaine takes over the detention class of delinquents, social misfits and latch-key kids and soon his passion for latin dancing meets their passion for urban hip-hop rhythms, resulting in a new hybrid of ballroom dancing and a bunch of kids who all come right.


"Good morning class of troubled ghetto kids, my name is (insert name here) and I am an (insert artform) teacher who has come to change your lives". Sound familiar? That's because it is.

Ah Hollywood, once more you have truly outdone yourself. Just when you thought there were no more privileged-teacher-fixes-troubled-city-kids-through-the-universal-power-of-the-arts movies left to be made, director Liz Friedlander comes to the rescue and beautifully blends five or six movies you've already seen, into one last (we hope) big screen oops... correction - opus.

The world got its first look at the real Pierre Dulaine in Mad Hot Ballroom, a documentary that focussed more on the kids and their personal journeys than on Dulaine himself. Take The Lead has taken that raw concept, thrown in a hero in the shape of an obscenely delectable Banderas, browsed through the scripts of To Sir With Love and Dangerous Minds for an idea or two, cashed in on the "Strictly Come Dancing" craze and finally regurgitated this paint by numbers flick.

It may be founded on a sturdy pile of cliches, but somehow it works. Not always beautifully mind you, but it works all the same. If there's a safe formula that's guaranteed a couple of bucks at the box office you'd better believe that someone's going to flog the poor little movie horse until it's exhausted hooves point skyward.

Despite the plot's flaws, Take The Lead does have its high notes which can be attributed largely to Mr-Salsa-Hips-Banderas who truly smoulders in the lead. Throughout his career Banderas has never been more than a tepid yet palatable character who plays his role, only to fade from one's memory as the credits roll. Finally, however, he has found his niche and it is for this alone that Take The Lead deserves to be enjoyed by the right audiences. His charisma and the lashings of Latin passion he injects into his tango are enough to bring any woman to her knees. They also show that he is capable of more than just prancing around in a mask slashing 'Z's everywhere he goes.

As for the rest of the "good bits", the real sizzle comes from the overall standard of the dancing, the infectious foot tapping beats and the rhythmic talents of Yaya DaCosta, who plays the dysfunctional yet beautiful LaRhette. Two thumbs up to Friedlander for organising the real Dulaine to help the cast perfect their moves, adding a much-needed touch of credibility. After one exceptional and steamy Tango scene between Banderas and Lithuanian born Amateur Latin Champion Katya Virshilas, the goosebumps will cover you from head to toe.

For all it's formulaic faults, Take The Lead still delivers exactly what it promises and if you love the romanticism of dance, the fruits of inspiration and a good old Hollywood ending you will not be disappointed. Also have squizz at the movie's official site, which has a great interactive 'Create Your Own Dance Sequence' to play with during your lunch hour. It's just tragic that the website turned out to be more original than the movie itself.

- Kate Pare

A drama that tells an enjoyable yet thoroughly unoriginal story of self discovery, inspiration in the face of adversity, and the healing power of the universal language of dance.

Christa 2006/06/22 8:17 AM
Take the lead Just like Banderos; great! Like the moves. He is a good dancer. Inspiring story Shall we dance
Linda de Jager 2006/06/22 8:52 AM
Take the Lead I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and there's a lot of thruth in this movie. YES Definitely
kelley 2006/06/22 12:12 PM
the best movie ever this movie is one of the best that Antonio has made it is so cool and is yet to be seen if you have not seen it so come on go and see it!!!IT ROCKS The Fast and Furious
Doug 2006/06/22 3:32 PM
What crack are you smoking? "The best movie ever" hey kelley? What are you? 11? Actually, on second thoughts you probably are. Why not play with your My Little Pony and leave the reviews to the big kids?
nastasha 2006/06/22 5:10 PM
I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! hey doug..........i totally agree with you the movie was not what i expected, but you could lay off with the sarcasm with kelley, she was just expressing her view you didnt need to attack her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!over and out inside man
Elsie 2006/06/22 8:26 PM
me I think if you like music and dancing, you would not look for a story as it's all about the music and dancing steps. you will see many a person performing the very same steps and acts in the club you visit after this movie has been around for a few weeks.
Charmed 2006/06/26 12:47 PM
review Being an Antonio fan was the main reason I saw this movie.. obviously not his best, but he did look good. Its an uplifting movie. Superman Returns!
Pamela 2006/06/26 12:49 PM
Oh Boy How can a movie with such a glaring fault be distributed? The overhead microphone (and sometimes more) could be seen in a lot of the scenes and was extremely off putting. I see this movie won an award - did they not see the error?
Zelda 2006/06/26 1:10 PM
Nice I really enjoyed this movie, but don't think it's a movie that the husbands or boyfriends would appreciate.
zarah 2006/07/10 11:42 AM
hott!! This movie made me want to go out there and learn to tango. The vibes you get from the dacing is exhilerating and body thrilling!
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