Take the Lead
Time Out says
When Ira Gershwin wrote the lyric to “I Got Rhythm,” he wasn’t exactly making a hip-hop-style boast. Yet here’s that American standard, as interpreted by Lena Horne, colliding with a beat box and some rapping by Q-Tip under the opening credits of Take the Lead. This kind of musical fusion—or is it culture clash?—is at the heart of director Liz Friedlander’s debut film, about a group of ghetto teens who embrace classical ballroom dancing while bringing some of their own street style to the dance floor.
Antonio Banderas stars as Pierre Dulaine, a genteel ballroom instructor who volunteers to teach a group of hardened “rejects” at an inner-city high school. The tough-love principal (Woodard) is skeptical, as are the students themselves (“What’s that noise?” remarks one upon hearing a lilting Gershwin tune). But the prospect of winning a citywide competition is enticement enough, and they soon find themselves relating to Dulaine, and to one another, in wholly new ways.
Take the Lead is itself a hybrid of the ballroom picture (an unlikely cottage industry these days) and the schoolteacher-in-the-ghetto film. Awash in the clichs of both genres, the movie seems to know it and not really care; it wins you over with the charm of its young cast—including newcomer DaCosta and Finding Forrester’s Rob Brown—and its ridiculously exuberant dance sequences.(Opens Fri; see Index for venues.)—Tom Beer