Mad Hot Ballroom (film)
Eric R. Samuelsen
Paramount Pictures, 2005.
Run Time: 105 minutes
Suggested retail price: $29.98(US)
My recent exchange with Alex has led to seek some areas where he and I
might be able to agree, and that led me in turn to think about some
films that most of us would agree should be supported, films intended
for families and children. I have a twelve year old daughter, and have
seen a lot of 'children's films' over the last few years, many of them
quite excellent, and many of them dreadful. I don't want to necessarily
talk about films like Finding Nemo or Cars or similar mainstream
films--I loved Nemo, anticipate liking Cars, but y'all know those films.
But it seems to me that there a number of terrific films that don't get
mainstream attention, that folks on the List may have never heard of,
but films that deserve our support. This isn't really about LDS films
per se, but our religion is, after all, centered in families.
So Alexander Michaletos perhaps this category isn't off-topic.
I should note that while none of these films are perfect, they're all
quite strong, and they all have the Lexie seal of approval, Lexie being
This film is a documentary, and provided the basis for the recent
Antonio Banderas movie, Take the Lead (2006). And I hate to say "for a
documentary, it's really entertaining," because that implies that docs
aren't usually entertaining, which is far from the case. But it's fair
to say that children don't see a lot of docs, and don't tend to like
them much. This one will change their minds, though.
It follows a group of fifth grade kids in New York as they compete in a
city-wide ballroom dance competition. And it's just tremendous. It's
got the really short boy who is partnered with one of those girls who
got her growth early--she towers over him, and he's got this look of
amazement and fear that's just tremendous. It's got this amazingly
opinionated and bossy little girl who completely steals the movie, even
though she's no great shakes as a dancer. It's got this wonderful,
dedicated, a little weepy, very young looking teacher, who you know is a
terrific teacher, but who is just that much too idealistic, so her 'I
love you guys' speech is rather comical, while also moving and sincere.
It's got cool kids who lose it when asked to actually . . . touch . . .
a girl. It's got other cool kids who lose it just as badly when told
they're going to have to touch boys. It's got kind of geeky kids who
find themselves in dance, and it's got this one Dominican kid who, it
turns out, is a marvelous dancer, who you really end up rooting for.
Lexie thought it was a wonderful movie, so long as we promised we
wouldn't make her take ballroom classes. It made 8 million, which is
great for a doc, and also less than a sixth than Robin Williams' awful
I'd love to hear if any of you have similar favorites. These are just a
few recent films that I thought got overlooked, but which were also
© 2006 Eric Samuelsen