Take The Lead

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -1 1/2

Antonio Banderas, Rob Brown, Yaya DaCosta, Alfre Woodward, John Ortiz, Laura Benanti, Dante Basco, Jenna Dewan, Marcus T. Paulk. Written by Dianne Houston. Directed by Liz Friedlander.

Inspired by a true story, Antonio Banderas stars as internationally acclaimed ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine (the man behind the inspiring school dance program chronicled in the last years hit documentary Mad Hot Ballroom) in the family drama Take the Lead. The film revolves around a professional dancer who volunteers to teach in the New York City public school system. But when his classic methods clash with his students' hip hop instincts, he teams up with them to create a new style of dance and becomes their mentor in the process. As Dulaine becomes a mentor for his students, many of whom havent had much to strive towards in their lives, he inspires them to hone their craft for a prestigious city ballroom competition, and in return they share with each other valuable lessons about pride, respect and honor.

A fine title, but Mr. Hollands Dance Class would have been more descriptive, for Take the Lead is about as formulaic as a movie can get. In keeping with all the new-teacher-befriends-urban-high schoolers movies, this one follows the numbers, well, to the letter: he must win them over, they learn to like his music by blending in their own; and they gear up for the big contest, despite their underdog status and coming of age travails.

That said there are several positive elements that make this familiar effort a worthy entry into the genre. Antonio Banderas injects a suave honesty into his teacher with a heart role. The music, a blend of Gershwin and hip-hop, is lively and tolerable for purists of both styles. And then there is the insightful message only some get the dream, those who show up to receive it. Breezy and humorous, Take the Lead is lightweight, but fun.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
New Line Cinema

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: High school boys bate each other through the use of crude language a few times.

Obscene Language: 30 expletives, ranging from damn, suck and ass to 3 more harsh uses of the s-word; and one extremely coarse word referring to the female anatomy and no, Im not going to write it out here.

Profanity: 2 misuses of Gods name

Violence: A brief fist fight; a youth is hit by his drunken father; he then has a gun put to his head by a thug; he is then beaten by the bad guys; a car is trashed by a hostile youth with a golf club; he later faces up to the deed. A grown man gets aggressive with a teen girl.

Sex: None. However, there is some erotic dancing, with several girls provocatively dressed for the roller skate/dance competition. It is implied that a teen girls mother is a prostitute. The girl takes care of her siblings while her mother entertains. This is not glorified, but merely incorporated to reveal the difficulties many teens are contending with.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture:

Drugs: A father-figure is a drunk. The lead has wine with his meal.

Other: None

Running Time: 97 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Young Adults

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