Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School

Film
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE? Carlyle gets his groove back.
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE? Carlyle gets his groove back.

Time Out says

Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School is one of those films with a familiar setup: An array of damaged characters find salvation through dance. It’s exasperating, from the way dance is used like a Hollywood quick fix for suffering, to Mark Adler’s unbearably sentimental score.

The story, told through a series of long-winded flashbacks, involves Frank Keane (Carlyle), who is consumed by grief over his wife’s death. His life changes the moment he aids a stranger, Steve Mills (Goodman), trapped in his car after a horrific accident. While in an ambulance, Steve asks Frank to go to the dance school where he made a promise to reunite with his childhood sweetheart. While dying, Steve even manages to choke out a few pearls of wisdom: “Ever look back on your life and imagine how it could have been different? You only get one life.”

Steve’s date is a no-show, but that’s okay because Meredith (Tomei) is there, paving the way for the film’s clichd message: One man’s ruined fate might be another’s destiny. One brief, bright spot is Steenburgen as Marienne Hotchkiss, who manages to lend the hokey writing some cheeky sexiness: “Dance,” she tells her students, “is a very powerful drug.... It can exorcise demons.” But there are few worse demons in a film than triteness—and Marilyn Hotchkiss can’t be saved by a jarringly cut Lindy Hop. (Opens Fri; see Index for venues.)—Gia Kourlas

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