It seems to be an unwritten rule: If you're a popular, middle-aged Hollywood actor, you must take your turn playing the mentor to a host of young unknowns, challenging them to seize the day, escape the temptations and pitfalls of reckless youth, and strut their stuff for the rest of the world. For Robin Williams, it was Dead Poets Society. For Michelle Pfeiffer, it was Dangerous Minds. Jeff Bridges did it in White Squall, and he'll do it again later this month in Stick It.
And now, here's Antonio Banderas as Pierre Dulaine, a European ballroom dancer who introduces the troubled teens of a South Bronx high school to the methods of mastering slick maneuvers on the dance floor. In doing so, he teaches them discipline, restraint, and respect. And he learns a thing or two himself, opening his rigorous method to include the hip-hop rhythms that capture the imaginations of these young students.
Take the Lead was directed by Liz Friedlander, formerly a music video director. Thus, she knows how to deliver the razzle-dazzle. But does she know how to tell a meaningful story?
Camerin Courtney (Christianity Today Movies) writes, "There are great lessons here … that culture can elevate and inspire even in surprising places, that sometimes the only thing standing between a depressing statistic and a promising young life is an adult who's willing to invest some time and talent, that despite socio-economic status or the color of one's skin we all have a lot more in common than we realize … but some of these truisms are at risk of getting lost or watered down by all competing with one another."
She's also not happy with the conclusion, saying that the "final dance scene loses steam, loses its main character, and has to share half ...1
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