Mad Hot Ballroom

A fair amount of commercial calculation went into this video documentary about New York City schoolchildren preparing for a citywide ballroom dance competition; it's patterned after the art-house hit Spellbound, and the dance element proved to be a draw in Shall We Dance? and Strictly Ballroom. Unfortunately for writer Amy Sewell and director Marilyn Agrelo, the interesting kids aren't very good dancers, and the good dancers aren't very interesting. The early scenes are charming, with some funny remarks from the kids of P.S. 112 in Bensonhurst as they theorize about the opposite sex. But their team goes down to defeat, and the latter half of the movie, devoted to the winners, resorts to dutiful voice-overs from teachers trying to impose a story on the material. PG, 100 min.

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