The great unspoken quirk of the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” was that it’s story of an idealistic teacher who won the hearts of ghetto problem-children through unconventional means (he taught them competitive ballroom dancing) sounded so much like that of a cheezy feel-good movie… but was actually true. In simply making a cheezy movie out of it, that quirk is lost and we’re left with the latest “wacky teacher makes good” garbage for the woodpile. Aspiring screenwriter’s take note: If your movie can be accurately described as a crappier chick-flick version of “Only The Strong,” your movie is going to SUCK.
Antonio Banderas plays Pierre DuLaine, a ballroom dancing instructor with a genius-level acumen for social graces and the ability to speak six languages (“all of them with a Spanish accent, of course.” ha ha!) but a total lack of backstory, any kind of characterization or even a logical thought-process. Upon witnessing a local high schooler vandalizing his principal’s car, DuLaine is apparently is siezed by the call of Civic Duty: He marches into said principal’s office and offers to rescue the “school rejects” through the healing magic of ballroom dance instruction.
DuLaine is provided with the usual Baskin Robbins flavor-assortment of racial/gender/lifestyle types in the form of an extended detention class, and… oh, screw it. Does ANYONE really need this summarized? Kid’s with comical problems solve them humorously, seriously problems are addressed and left to hang, “tough choices” are made, Knute Rockne speeches are given, lessons are learned, etc.
Yup, DuLaine is forced to face down an angry room of disgruntled parents with the gall to insist that his methods may be foolish. Yup, everything comes down to a big competition showdown between DuLaine’s free-spirited squad of street-hipsters and lily-white vanguards of tradition. Through all of this, Banderas works his ASS off in a valiant effort to carry a film entirely devoid of merit with only the strength of his own “coolest man on earth” charisma to aid him.
There is no way to parse it: This movie is COMPLETELY worthless.
FINAL RATING: Zero.