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From Baz Luhrmann, the director of the award-winning hits Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! comes the hilariously funny romantic comedy that will leave you singing, laughing and cheering for more. Experience the magical story of a championship ballroom dancer who's breaking all the rules in a fantastic new special edition, complete with never-before-seen bonus features! A hit with fans and critics all across the globe, Strictly Ballroom will hold you tight and dance straight into your heart. Revisit this high-stepping comedy classic with a new and exclusive documentary, featuring Baz Luhrmann and his close collaborators discussing the extraordinary journey of the film. In a fabulous special edition, it's a dream come true!
Bonus Features Include: Strictkly Ballroom from Stage to Screen documentary, Samba to Slow Fox, Design gallery, Filmmaker commentary, Deleted scenes
While the plot of this Australian film may seem a bit familiar (The Ugly Duckling meets Dirty Dancing), the whimsical tone and superb dance sequences will make you forget the movie's predictability. Scott (Paul Mercurio) is a champion ballroom dancer who wants to dance "his own steps." Fran is the homely, beginning dancer who convinces Scott that he should dance his own steps... with her. Complicating matters are Scott's domineering mother (Pat Thompson), a former dancer herself, who wants her son to win the Australian Pan Pacific Championship (the same contest she lost years ago), and a conniving dance committee that is determined that "there are no new steps!" The dancing is enjoyable, yet not overwhelming, and the movie strives hard not to take itself too seriously (the beginning of the film is even styled as a pseudo-documentary). Strictly Ballroom, while not so subtly imparting its moral ("A life lived in fear is a life half-lived"), is a laughable romp that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. --Jenny Brown
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The film tells the story of Scott Hastings, a championship ballroom dancer who is bucking the system by insisting on dancing his own steps instead of the standard dance steps forced on him by the dance committee. His mother Shirley is up in arms about what to do with him. She at one time was a famous dancer herself and lost out on her shot at gold and just wants her son to have what she never had; but his arrogance is standing in the way of her dream. When his dance partner leaves him because of his stubbornness he finds himself training Fran, the homely girl who is just a beginner at dance, to be his partner.
The film follows that same formula of boy meets girl, girl isn't too pretty but cleans up nice, girl learns moves, boy learns humility, boy and girl have rocky patch in relationship, boy and girl reconcile, boy and girl turn heads; but it's the getting there that is so unique and refreshing.
Baz incorporates his breed of storytelling (which is something I've found a lot of in Australian cinema, they are very bright and loud and all over the place) in `Strictly Ballroom' with dynamic results. The dancing is not as flamboyant as I would have expected (and I was rather let down by the final dance scene) but each scene is infused with enough spontaneity to make up for any lack of flare in the dancing.
The acting is very good, hilarious and heartwarming. Paul Mercurio is excellent as Scott and Tara Morice (who looks a lot like Samantha Morton and Emily Watson) is flawless as Fran; truly captivating and endearing. Bill Hunter and Pat Thomson are hysterical as Scott's mother and coach who are determined to see him win gold, and Barry Otto is nicely used, if a bit out of place, as Doug, Scott's father.
The script really gives the actors a lot to work with and they all put their best foot forward in making `Strictly Ballroom' a memorable and entertaining experience. It's loud and vivacious and totally in-your-face, and this works. If you are a fan of Luhrmann's more famed work then this is one you will want to check out. Luhrmann has a way of taking the familiar (face it, even `Moulin Rouge!' is quite unoriginal) and making it feel all his own, as if we've never seen it before.
To be honest, you've never seen this before, at least not done this way; of that you can be sure.
Storyline is cliché:
- Dance protégé is bored with accepted dance moves and wants to invent his own moves
- Ugly duckling with two left feet becomes prodigy's new partner and becomes a beautiful graceful dancer
Dancing was not spectacular:
- The "new" moves that the protagonist does come up with is not actually new, he's just incorporating modern dance into social dance
- What little social dancing footage there is is interrupted and so we never get to see a complete dance sequence
- The social dancing that is done is expertly done but nothing worth calling home about
Costume, makeup, and hairstyles were just painful to look at:
- Too much unwarranted skin exposure (are we at the beach or on the dance floor?)
- Too gaudy (colors are loud and dissonant)
- Mohawks do no look good on women
Baz Luhrmann was not at his best in making Strictly Ballroom. You do see one good shot of the two lovers in front of a sparkling red Coca-Cola billboard and another stunning shot of the two of then dancing in front of a white curtain with pink backlighting, but other than those two shots, the rest of the cinematography was mediocre.
For a better sample of amazing work by Baz Luhrmann try Moulin Rouge or Romeo & Juliet.
Better ballroom dance films to watch are Dirty Dancing and Shall We Dansu? Make sure you get the originals and not the later versions.
The second movie is a Dirty Dancing-style, boy-meets-ugly-duckling tale. The story allows you to peek behind the covers of a first generation Australian and her awkward attempts to fit into a new culture while maintaining her European ties at home.
The third movie is what sets Strictly Ballroom apart from the field - tremendously funny, broad caricatures squabbling around the periphery of Scott and his struggle to bring his 'new steps' to the Pan-Pacific Championships. Pat Thompson is hysterical as Doug's mother Shirley, and Bill Hunter is wonderfully over-the-top as dancing kingmaker Barry Fife ('There are no new steps!'). But attention first-time viewers - keep your eyes on Barry Otto as Scott's father, Doug Hastings. This odd, seemingly shell of a man is actually the emotional core of the film. He provides the movies funniest moments (particularly - as other reviewers have alluded to - a flashback sequence so over-the-top hilarious that it defies description) and its most relevatory ones.
Play this film over and over again and you will never be disappointed.