Friday, January 10, 2014

Strictly Ballroom (1992)

Today's film is Strictly Ballroom and it comes to us from Australia.  It's not hilarious but it does have a certain kind of dry humor to it.  It reminds me of Best in Show, a mockumentary about dog show participants, except instead of a documentary type story, we get a drama.

Strictly Ballroom focuses on the lives of amateur competitive ballroom dancers.  They wear over the top, glamorous costumes, and perform carefully choreographed dances to a roomful of people.  The particular contest we are concerned we is the Pan Pacific Championships and our main character, Scott, has been groomed to win this since he was six years old.  When people like that devote so much time to a passion, they can get super serious about it.  I mean like way too serious.

I get asked to help with conventions often, and one time I worked with a convention for model plane enthusiasts.  These people all made their own models, brought them in, showed them off, bought new models, etc.  They were all incredibly proud of their model planes and couldn't wait to make another.  That may seem odd but it's their hobby and they're very much into it and our hobbies probably sound weird to them.  That's what I thought of when I watched this film.  The dancers have everyday jobs, for example, the best dancer retires so he can devote more time to his landscaping business.  It doesn't matter what their job is because during the dance they are a star.  They must feel great during it.

The actual story is below average entertaining and a 1000% predictable.  Scott gets dumped by his partner right before the competition and scrambles to find another.  Enter the pimply awkward girl who can't dance and all of a sudden now she can.  It even has the old "remove glasses from awkward girl and get insta-hottie" rule apply here.  Also all of her skin problems vanish now that she's glasses-free and more fashionable.  Her dad and grandmother are both good dancers and teach Scott how to use the rhythm in his heart and not just rely on his memorized steps.  The whole point is that he doesn't want to only use certain steps in his dance and wants to create his own.  They then proceed to do a very traditional dance.  It ends with everyone including the audience joining them on the floor in a massive group dance.  Nobody wins because it was rigged anyway.  Interestingly, this scene was filmed during an actual dance competition while the dancers were at lunch.  This film was okay but I wouldn't ever watch it again.  I'll give it a 6/10.

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