Wednesday, May 6, 2009
The release of Every Little Step (opening May 8 at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas) and Love N Dancing (opening May 8 in select San Diego theaters) this week seems like a cruel joke. That's because I just went with friends to try salsa dancing for the first time and I think I seriously injured at least two of my dancing partners. So to then see a pair of films highlighting skilled dancers who make it all look so easy was a bit defeating. Although I don't think that has affected my judgment in regards to reviewing these films I just wanted to put that out there so you know where I'm coming from – and that place is humiliation.
Love N Dancing is a trite, made-for-TV looking romantic tale in which Amy Smart ends up leaving her workaholic fiancée for a hearing-impaired swing dancer. The story is as lame and predictable as its title but I will say that the dancing was quite entertaining and occasionally even impressive. But competitive dance is an acquired taste, like synchronized swimming and Olympic skating. Love N Dancing (I guess the "N" was to make this conventional flick seem hipper and cooler than it is) joins the ranks of films like Lambada in which a style of dance informs a whole film and gives it its only reason to exist. Although director Robert Iscove probably thinks he made something more respectable like Shall We Dance? or Take the Lead.
Screen Media Films
Every Little Step, by contrast, serves up a documentary about the open casting call for the Broadway revival of the hit play A Chorus Line, which is about – wait – that's right, an open casting call. Wow. That's genius. Okay, I shouldn't be so snarky but this documentary feels horribly redundant and doesn't find a way to make the real life casting call seem much different from what's in the play. Maybe that's the point but if it is then the film seems unnecessary. But I will give it credit by saying that it's far superior to the film adaptation of A Chorus Line that was directed by Richard Attenborough, a man with absolutely no sense of dance rhythm.
Every Little Step is as predictable as Love N Dancing but it's redeeming factor is that it's all real and it does elicit our empathy for these struggling dancers with dreams of making it big. But in the end it feels like a long commercial for the revival production of A Chorus Line. Once again you will see some talented dancers and you do get a nice behind the scenes look at a Broadway musical. But Every Little Step is for fans of the Broadway musical and in that context it succeeds in delivering the goods.
Companion viewing: Shall We Dance, Strictly Ballroom, Take the Lead, The Red Shoes, Planet B-Boy, Mad Hot Ballroom