An all star cast heads up Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School, a heartfelt, nostalgic and gently humorous story about a chance encounter in which one man's dreams become another man's destiny, starring Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Robert Carlyle, Mary Steenburgen, Sean Astin, Donnie Whalberg, Danny DeVito and John Goodman. Frank (Robert Carlyle), a baker by trade, has been consumed by grief over his wife's death. But everything changes when he pulls his bread truck over on a rural highway to help a dying stranger entangled in a car wreck. In the last moments of his life, Steve (John Goodman) tells Frank that he was on his way to visit a woman he hasn't seen in forty years. Before Steve dies, Frank promises to keep the meeting with his long lost love. Frank's quest to find Steve's love, Lisa (Camryn Manheim), takes him to Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing and Charm School.
When lonely hearts want to connect, is there any better way, really, than dancing? Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School is a sweet indie valentine to dance, and to the connection of lost, broken souls. The stellar cast is led by English Everyguy Robert Carlyle, a widower who believes he's fulfilling a dying man's last wish--to find a long-lost love--by showing up at a Thursday night dance class. Carlyle is by turns awkward, warm, sincere and bewildered, perfectly believable as a man awash in grief yet hoping to rejoin life. It turns out that dance class, led by the theatrical Mary Steenburgen, holds his lifeline. Other strong performances come from Marisa Tomei, Sean Astin, John Goodman, Ernie Hudson, David Paymer, Camryn Manheim and Sonia Braga, all of whom play people yearning for something, some one. Viewers may get distracted early in the film, seeing Carlyle in a dance venue and secretly hoping the soundtrack would queue up "You Sexy Thing," to get to see Carlyle reprise some of his fabulous shtick from The Full Monty. But it turns out Carlyle is just as winning performing the Lindy Hop or waltz. And, the film suggests, once the body moves and the soul is stirred--can love be far behind? The answer is: May I have the honor of this dance? Extras include the short 1990 film this feature was based on and an audio commentary. --A.T. Hurley