Monday, May 30, 2005

Mad Hot Ballroom

I cannot even pretend cynicism here.

I'm not sure when this documentary about 5th graders in New York entering a city-wide ballroom dance contest hits critical mass.

It starts when you meet the kids, and they talk about their lives and how they percieve the world. It's not quite when the pudgy kid gets picked over his more confident older brother, not quite when you realize that the two kids who aren't allowed by their religions to dance -- one Jewish and one Muslium -- are best friends while acting as DJ's. Not quite when the 11 year old girls talk about being harassed by drunk men, or begging their mom to leave their dads who cheat, and the decision they've made not to join the street culture. Not quite when you understand that the angelic boy speaks no English, but he's a hero and protected by his peers because he's born to dance.

It's not quite when you realize that the dance teacher who seems a little too driven cracks, and you understand that she's lost too many of her kids back into despair. Or when the New York Public School dance teachers break out into an impromptu dance-off/celebration in a basement in Brooklyn.

But somehow, by the time the final city-wide dance finals occur, the movie is a fat adrenaline needle of joy plunged straight into your chest.

I don't care where it's playing. I don't care how far you have to drive. Go. Now.


Bill Peschel said...

Slate loves it too, although not quite to your degree.

Alex said...

I loved it. Not quite SPELLBOUND, but the kids are fascinating and it sure did make me want to learn to merengue. And tango. And fox trot.

While the pudgy kid was a hoot, you forgot to mention the tiny intense tyke with the 'fro who took the judges to task for eliminating his team. Genius.

Rogers said...

I loved him. And for me, although it's not quite as good a "film" as SPELLBOUND, it worked on a more emotional level. But at heart, I'm just a big weepy git in that Irish tradition.

Riyan Cilacap said...

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