Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 32
  2. Negative: 1 out of 32
  1. A documentary experience to savor. Warm, funny and very difficult to resist, this engaging film combines the charm of "Spellbound" with the kinetic energy of "Strictly Ballroom" in a way that will make you want to laugh, cry and do a little dancing yourself, maybe all at the same time.
  2. This winning documentary about fifth-graders who learn ballroom dancing is one of those movies that make the world a brighter place.
  3. 88
    Isn't just heartwarming and inspiring, it's a remarkable look at a group of children whose most noteworthy trait is that they are ordinary.
  4. These kids may be too small for sports and may not be headed to college on academic scholarships. But for once, they've proven to the world and to themselves that they matter.
  5. 83
    You nevertheless can't help but be swept up in the kids' enthusiasms and aspirations and gobs of energy.
  6. Resistance is futile. It's impossible not to be swept up into the uplifting world of Mad Hot Ballroom, a documentary that can be neatly summed up as the "Spellbound" of competitive ballroom dancing.
  7. Reviewed by: Anna Smith
    Cute, comical kids help make this ballroom dancing comp-romp a feelgood winner despite inexpert editing.
  8. Wildly enjoyable look at the fifth-grade ballroom dance competition held annually in New York City.
  9. Don't miss an opportunity to see Mad Hot Ballroom, though. It will sweep you off your feet.
  10. 75
    Listening to the kids talk is a treat in itself, but watching them strut their stuff in the final competition is enough to make you stand up and cheer.
  11. 75
    The documentary Mad Hot Ballroom is packed from start to finish with adorable kids doing cute things: Rarely has a movie, fictional or not, had this much awwwww factor.
  12. 75
    A crowd-pleaser of the first order.
  13. A crowd-pleaser of immense proportions.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Charming and inspiring.
  15. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Watching these pint-size Astaires and Rogerses practice the fox trot, tango, rumba, and swing is the immediate hook to Mad Hot Ballroom.
  16. The considerable charm of Mad Hot Ballroom can be traced directly to its choice of subjects. They happen to be 11-year old kids, and the lens loves every precious one of them.
  17. A testament to the discipline, humor, and life of kids who swing.
  18. Reviewed by: Michael Ferraro
    An uplifting and inspiring tale.
  19. 70
    The worthy text of Mad Hot Ballroom is undercut by the real source of its energy, the heat of competition and the pure joy of winning.
  20. 70
    Some of the strongest scenes are candid front-stoop sessions in which the kids swap gossip and float some hilariously pre-sexual theories on romance.
  21. 70
    Like "Spellbound's" glimpse of the darker side of childhood competition, Mad Hot Ballroom--a look at New York City schools' fifth-grade ballroom dance program--is best when exploring issues of class and gender and definitions of success.
  22. Ms. Agrelo and Ms. Sewell deserve praise for discovering and illuminating this delightful corner of an educational system that is often portrayed in the grimmest terms, but their execution falls a bit short.
  23. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    What Mad Hot Ballroom lacks in depth, it more than makesup for in charm and vibrancy.
  24. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    All along we've known that the contest was a metaphor for getting your act together BEFORE taking it on the road.
  25. Reviewed by: Robert Koehler
    Perky and effortlessly smooth.
  26. Reviewed by: Sarah Kaufman
    Insightful and endearing documentary.
  27. It's not the dance but the kids' passion, and the boisterous support of their friends and family in the audience, that makes the contest so entertaining.
  28. 63
    No great shakes as a documentary, but there are great shakes in the sight of 10- and 11-year-olds learning ballroom dancing in the New York City public school system.
  29. At heart this is a cuteness exploitation flick.
  30. In contrast to its great title, Mad Hot Ballroom is anything but: Let’s just say I was not spellbound.

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