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Mixed or average reviews - based on 30 Critics What's this?

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6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 24 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: Take the Lead is a drama inspired by the true story of Pierre Dulaine, an inspirational Manhattan dance teacher and competitor who volunteers his time to teach ballroom dancing to a diverse group of New York inner-city high school students serving detention. (New Line Cinema)
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 30
  2. Negative: 1 out of 30
  1. 75
    Antonio Banderas is reason enough to see the movie.
  2. Surprisingly charming and well-acted.
  3. It's a very slight and forgettable affair, and a formula job all the way. But it's easy to watch, the dance sequences are sporadically enjoyable (if hardly innovative) and Antonio Banderas is wonderfully magnetic and charming in the lead.
  4. 60
    To their credit, screenwriter Dianne Houston and director Liz Friedlander (both making their feature debuts) go relatively easy on the urban-life clich├ęs and instead stick tight to dance class.
  5. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    50
    The latest ballroom dance-fever picture isn't very good, but some of the dancing is fun.
  6. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    50
    Johnny can't read, but he sure can rumba - and that's just fine with Take the Lead.
  7. Antonio Banderas is a charming and talented man, but in Take the Lead he lays on the old-world panache so thick - the accent, the flowery courtliness, the romance of romance - that he comes off like Dracula's metrosexual cousin.

See all 30 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 3 out of 5
  1. NorthCountryMaturingGardener
    Apr 7, 2006
    9
    It WAS a feel good movie! The music was great too. I liked that all the characters were pretty normal kind of kids. Nice.
  2. Angie
    Apr 7, 2006
    8
    Much better than I had expected. It's actually really entertaining... Oh, and the actor who played Rupio in Hook is in it too (I just Much better than I had expected. It's actually really entertaining... Oh, and the actor who played Rupio in Hook is in it too (I just thought that was funny). It does play on stereotypes though... Expand
  3. MarkB.
    Apr 24, 2006
    3
    As last year's fish story disguised as a horse story, Dreamer, and umpteen other movies that trumpet themselves as being "inspired by a As last year's fish story disguised as a horse story, Dreamer, and umpteen other movies that trumpet themselves as being "inspired by a true story" demonstrate, anytime you see a film that labels itself as "inspired by" rather than "based on" real life events, you can translate that as "contents: 98% impure ingredients". Caveat emptor once again: there's no doubt that the true story of Pierre Dulaine, a ballroom dance instructor who turned thousands of inner-city kids on to rhumbas, tangos and waltzes (and maybe turned more than a few young lives around in the process) is an amazing and truly inspiring one, and no doubt Dulaine is a heck of a terrific guy, but screenwriter Dianne Houston and director Liz Friedlander have killed everything that's interesting about his life by squashing it through a Hollywood funnel. I'm a sucker for upbeat inspirational movies--I really liked last year's Coach Carter and 2003's Save the Last Dance, and am one of the few straight guys around willing to admit having enjoyed the original Dirty Dancing--but the cliched baloney being sliced up and tossed around by Houston and Friedlander truly plumbs new depths in both quantity and shamelessness. Every groan-inducing element you'd expect in this genre is up for roll call: the two kids who start out not being able to stand each other, but...; the poor little rich girl, the troubled kid who's torn between a life of crime and a More Noble Calling; the freckle-faced White kid who shows up mostly for comic relief; the contest that seems to go one way but takes a ridiculously improbable turn, etc., etc. and so on. I know I've literally left out dozens, but at the end, when I thought the filmmakers were finally going to show some restraint and NOT include the bit where the stodgy old folks get down and boogie with the teens...well, let's just say that every now and then it's actually a GOOD idea to exit a movie before the closing credits are done. Antonio Banderas is certainbly a captivating actor, and on paper seemed perfect for this role, but the movie forces him to do Pierre a serious disservice: he's presented as so distant, so vague, so STRANGE that Principal James' on-the-spot decision to let him take over detention without learning anything about him first comes across as a monstrously irresponsible move that wouldn't fly in any school district in which the parents could afford to sue if anything went wrong. Take the Lead DOES earn a few points for having its hero address a particularly galling, callous breach of etiquette that sadly has been completely accepted in the last 30 years: the tendency to reply to "thank you" not with "you're welcome" or "thank you, too" but with the despicably condescending "uh-huh"...but then it loses all its points for turning a teacher who's understandably concerned about his honor students who really want to learn into the movie's villain. (They give him several stereotypical Jewish characteristics, too...and people are still accusing Mel Gibson of being prejudiced??) Worst of all is the predictably jumpy, MTV-style Cuisinart editing and cutting that completely destroys any joy to be had in watching the kids turn into great dancers; even the director of the most mundane, forgettable MGM musical of the 1940s knew what Friedlander and her editors clearly don't--that the best way to show off terrific dancing is to knock off the fancy camera gymnastics and FOCUS ON THE DANCING, ALREADY. Obviously, the superior alternative to this movie (or its antidote, if you already saw it) is last year's completely captivating documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, in which the young dancers are 11 or 12, allowing the movie to mine much of its considerable humor and charm from pre-teens discussing romantic and sexual matters they don't quite get yet. As for Take the Lead, remember all those annoying, obtrusive subplots in Saturday Night Fever involving John Travolta's brother wanting to leave the priesthood, the wimpy gang member who impregnated his girlfriend and all the others that made you want to yell at the screen to get back to Travolta and his dancing? Well, ALL of this movie, INCLUDING the dance sequences, ALSO made me want to yell at the screen to get back to Travolta and his dancing! Expand
  4. FredAusterlitz
    Apr 7, 2006
    2
    Banderas is slick, but everything else in the movie is a mindless cliche. Trying to elevate hip-hop to the level of standards is like Banderas is slick, but everything else in the movie is a mindless cliche. Trying to elevate hip-hop to the level of standards is like comparing a Yugo to a Ferrari. Expand
  5. CraigA.
    Jun 2, 2006
    1
    Oh, Good Lord. It would be easier to just sit at home and imagine what might happen in this film - because whatever you expect to happen in a Oh, Good Lord. It would be easier to just sit at home and imagine what might happen in this film - because whatever you expect to happen in a Hollywood Teen Movie promptly happens, in the most predictable way. You want kids who society has given up on? You want the sullen youth who is really a good guy, but gets mixed up in crime? You want fat jokes and black jokes? You want the disaffected youth rising to the top against all odds? Take the Lead gives you this and more. In fact, it shoves the American Teen Movie prototype down your throat. Predictable trash. Expand

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