Top positive review
99 people found this helpful
Flaws and all, I enjoyed it!
on 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.