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VINE VOICEon April 30, 2006
I agree with many of the reviewers that "Take the Lead" could have benefitted with more dance and less "action". I agree that the plotline's been done before....inspirational teacher arrives at a tough school in a tough situation, is initially mistrusted by a cast of student characters, and prevails because he/she really cares to show up, to teach, and to provide an example and inspiration to the students. Yeah, Sidney Poitier did it, yeah, Michelle Pfeiffer did it, Robin Williams - but still, the story of Pierre Dulaine is real, and it is compelling. And the current ballroom dance "craze" allowed it to be brought to the screen.

Banderas always brings it to his films. He's somewhat of a caricature; the hot, smoky Spaniard with the true heart. I choose to believe his public persona, that he's like this in real life, as well. Banderas is more than fine as Pierre Dulaine - he has a light, believable touch. He inspires. It feels as though making this movie was not just another job, another role to him. I think that quality in Banderas is like the indefinable charm that Hugh Jackman brings to a role....and it's why they're as successful on stage as they are on screen. They're living it.

His student cast - a permanent, multicultural cast of detention junkies (why Yaya Dacoste as LahRette is in detention is anybody's guess), including Rob Brown as Rock (he was good here, fantastic in Finding Forrester), is quirky but endearing (yes, that's a tired clich?, from movies and TV as well).

Dulaine's got a somewhat successful dance studio; he's a widower, his life is busy but not full and these kids strike a chord with him. There's a little mix of hip hop with his ballroom in the classroom, but by far the most fascinating scene in the film takes place at the final competition, when dancer Jenna Dewan (a bit player in the saga of the romantic life of Justin Timberlake) heats up the floor dancing the tango with not ONE, but two partners (small role successes Lyriq Bent, as Easy and Dante Basco, who has big screen potential galore, as Ramos). This trio absolutely makes the audience, both in the film and in seats in the theater stand up and cheer for a sensuous, serious and memorable dance sequence.

I loved both Japanese and American versions of "Shall We Dance?", I was mad for "Mad Hot Ballroom", I even own the DVD of Vanessa Williams' and Chayanne's hot and sexy "Dance With Me" which aired out Latin Ballroom Dancing well before the current film and TV craze. And I loved, "Take the Lead", as well. Formulaic, yes, a little misdirected by first time film director Liz Friedlander, but still a great movie for dance-lovers, and, similar to "Shall We Dance?" and "Dance With Me", it will be a popular DVD for a wider audience.

4 Stars!
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on June 1, 2006
If I had to describe this movie, I'd call this a mix between the basics of Dirty Dancing : Havana Nights (it combines different types of dancing, Take the lead mixes hip hop and ballroom dancing) and Dangerous minds/Sister Act 2 (in the way the teacher tries to inspire students).

The movie is based on a true story. Mr.Dulane (Antonio Banderas), a ballroom dancer with his own teaching studio, decides to become a detention supervisor in an inner-city school, and then to inspire and teach these kids trust and hope (among others) through ballroom dancing. In exchange, of course, these kids teach him a little something as well. Antonio Banderas is great and is believeable as a ballroom dancer/teacher. The supporting cast also helps carry the movie and does an amazing job.

I really enjoyed this movie. It's an inspirational story, but it also manages to keep clear of corniness and still be entertaining thanks to Banderas' great performance, but also in large part thanks to the dancing and the mix of different styles of music. There's funny parts, there are dramatic parts, it has all the makings of a good movie, and it succeeds, even though I thought it lost its pace once or twice, but nothing the movie doesn't recover from.
I also liked the fact that while it reaches wide audiences, it also has an underlying message, criticizing today's society for setting up a certain outcasting of inner-city schools. But not to worry, the movie has no political agenda, it's all underlying. It's an inspirational movie that's made for entertaining the audience, not beating them on the head with criticism, and in that sense the movie does exactly what it's meant to do.

I highly recommend this movie. (And if you enjoyed this one, you'll probably enjoy "Save The Last Dance", and vice-versa)
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on January 16, 2007
Inspired by a true story, this film does not make a saint out of the main character who does make a few missteps as he judges people without really knowing them at times, but his heart is in the right place. Except for Banderas and Woodard who are stars in their own right and perform well here, this film is also dominated by a number of unknowns who are very convincing in their roles. This film does not shy away from the tragedies some of these inner city youths experience everyday of their lives as we witness one girl nearly assualted by a "customer" of her prostitute mother and one boy who witnessed his brother's death and his father's descent into alcoholism. None of these are pretty pictures and none of these problems are solved at the end of the film.

In addition, a fair commentary is made about the way many view our education system both by the public and those in the system. In this film that commentary is embodied in a math teacher who won't cover his after school detention time as he views those kids as losers not worthy of his time and he'd rather be teaching kids that care about what he has to say. How sad that is. I have been teaching for 16 years now and while I enjoy it, I don't do it because my "audience" cares. Wow, that sounds like an awfully big ego trip to only want to teach to the elite of the school; I hate to admit that I know such teachers. One thing I've learned in my time in education is that the moment students (any child) say that they don't need you, then that's when they need you the most. Ironically, this very same teacher turns in the principal later for conducting the dance classes instead of trying to teach the students. Hmmmm . . . Didn't he say they weren't worthy of being taught?

EVERYONE is entitled to a good education, even those that don't know its value yet (heck, they're kids, right?). We can't select who is worthy and throw out the rest. The film certainly gets preachy about this, however, the film's major theme of finding one's self-respect and giving respect to others offers hope to these youths. It is an uplifting story inspite of its obvious flaws.
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The concept of taking the gentility of ballroom dancing with all the skills and discipline it requires and using that as a means of changing young people who are floating aimlessly toward possible destruction is a sound one, as evidenced in this 'biography' of the life of Pierre Dulaine. Unfortunately the topic is overused to the point of becoming a ho-hum script gimmick and that is unfortunate. There are many things to like about this film, but the script and direction manage to go for sellout at the end, ruining what otherwise could have been a tender film.

Antonio Banderas plays Dulaine, a man with a void in his life which changes when he encounters a highschool lad Rock (Rob Brown) destroying the highschool principal's car: Principal Augustine James (Alfre Woodard) is a hard-nosed disciplinarian whose heart is in the right place but who alienates her students, creating the need for a Detention Hall. Dulaine approaches James with the idea of teaching the tough kids ballroom dancing while they are in detention and after some thought, James goes for it. Dulaine is faced with unbelieving and disrespectful students, which he eventually wins over on terms that show respect for their potential and the ballroom dancing begins - a competition just happens to be in the offing!

The young cast is fairly strong, with some actors such as Yaya DaCosta, Jenna Dewan, Jasika Nicole, Dante Basco, Brandon D. Andrews, and Marcus T. Paulk being particularly fine. The girls are the dancers here and they steal the show. The problems with the script are with the choices of emphasis: we know little about Dulaine and too much about incidental kids. But the message is clear. The movie begins well, sags in the middle, and then just when there is the big finish, the story about the influence of ballroom dancing, etiquette, and pride disintegrates into a rather meaningless and long hip-hop session on a formal dance floor. Banderas and Woodard try to hold it together. Grady Harp, August 06
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on May 31, 2006
I'm not much in to the 'hip hop' aspect of this plot, but the story is more than just this. Antonio plays a dance teacher who owns his own studio teaching ballroom dance to rich kids. He comes to realize that troubled inner-city kids might benefit greatly from "what dancing has to teach them."

In one of the pivotal moments in the film he explains how dancing teaches these young kids how to be considerate to their partners. To give and receive what their partner needs from them. It teaches them how to be generous and decent to each other. It also shows the students what they might achieve if they apply themselves to something.

I cannot dance at all, but I think that inside this "underdog learns to fly" premise are real values. Honest feeling.

Antonio also brings a lot of self-respect to this character. He is fantastic as the dignified gentleman. I wish I had half of his style. I found that I enjoyed this movie more than I expected to.
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on April 8, 2014
I've seen this movie several times and decided to add it to my collection. The performances are very nice. It's a heartwarming story and it's based on true events. It's not an Oscar contender, but who said I want to watch what they give Oscars to these days? For the price, it's a nice film to enjoy.
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on December 1, 2013
I am a huge fan of dance and I so enjoyed the actors in this film. Watching the work together is worth the watch. It for me would be difficult to understand anyone who would not like looking at Antonio Banderas! He is one of the most hot men on the planet!

There is a famous scene in the movie. This dance performance is steaming!
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on October 9, 2015
It was a decent movie. Some of the music was to "loud" for me. I enjoyed the dancing especially at the end when they were dancing for the championship Antonia did a good job as the instructor. He volunteered at the school when he saw teenagers getting into trouble and no one
willing to help them. He gave them the self esteem they needed to get their lives on a better track. It's worth watching if you are into dancing.
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on April 6, 2014
I am a sucker for movies like this so I already knew I'd like it. The fact that it's based on a true life story makes it even better. It's a little formulaic, which I expected, but all in all, it's a feel good movie that didn't disappoint.
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on February 22, 2014
On days when it feels like nothing is going right, this kind of movie guides you to accomplishments that helped kids along the way. Based on a true story, this movie has a lot going for it and can inspire teachers who feel trapped inside the box of education.
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