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Take the Lead (PG-13)

Release Date: April 7th, 2006 by New Line Cinema.
The Cast: Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown, Yaya DaCosta, Dante Basco, John Ortiz, Laura Benanti, Marcus T. Paulk, Jenna Dewan, Alfre Woodard.
Directed by Liz Friedlander.

BASIC PREMISE: Peirre Dulaine (Banderas) teaches ballroom dancing to students at an inner-city high school. Based on a true story.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Take the Lead has a predictable, formulaic plot yet it never ceases to be entertaining. Antonio Banderas is very well-cast as Pierre Dulaine, who steps into the office of a high school principal (Woodard) to give him permission to teach a ballroom class. She hesitates, at first, but soon lets him teach it to students at detention only as an experiment. Of course, the hip-hop-loving students laugh when he puts on classical ballroom music, but everything changes when they watch his dance moves with a beautiful blonde dancer. A subplot involving a romance between two Rock (Brown) and Lahrette (DaCosta), two students who come from troubled homes, adds a welcome layer of reality—including a brief, grim scene with gun violence. Director Liz Friedlander, with the help of the talented Talauega brothers, includes exciting and flashy dance sequences that almost leap off of the screen with so much energy. It’s so easy to be full engaged by the wonderful dancing and music, even during the predictable, clichéd ending at the big competition.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Just like in Mad Hot Ballroom , Shall We Dance? , and Dance With Me , Take the Lead lifts your spirits with its life-affirming message about the power of music and dance. Pierre believes that anyone, no matter how they look, can dance as long as they have the innate desire to dance. In a particularly moving scene, he tells the principal as well as parents that ballroom dancing would allow the students to be able to trust themselves and to keep them hunger for success in life after high school.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Occasionally clichéd and predictable.


IN A NUTSHELL: A joy to behold! An exciting, uplifting crowd-pleaser!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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