Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom...

The full name of this odd little film is "Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm School." Never heard of it? Me either! This 2005 film must have gone straight to DVD and I can sort of see why. On the other hand, it has a few things to recommend it:
  • Robert Carlyle ("The Full Monty" and "Hamish Macbeth" - BBC TV Series) is a baffled widower, stuck in grief and confusion. His bakery truck is passed by a speeding motorist who suddenly has a smash up and Carlyle's character is unwillingly drawn into the injured man's life.
  • John Goodman ("O, Brother Where Art Thou?" and "The Big Lebowski") is the speeding motorist.
  • Mary Steenburgen ("Elf" and "Sunshine State") is the current proprietrix of the eponymous school.
  • Sean Austin ("Lord of the Rings" and "Men of Valor") is in the grief therapy group with Carlyle and four or five other widowers.
  • David Paymer ("Ocean's Thirteen" and "Resurrecting the Champ") is the facilitator for the grief therapy group.
  • Marisa Tomai ("My Cousin Vinny" and "In the Bedroom") is a dance student at the school.
  • Donnie Wahlberg ("The Italian Job" and "Band of Brothers") is another student at the school. He thinks he's Michael Flatley...you know...Lord of the Dance... but I am convinced he must be wearing a thong because he has a problem, ya know? Keep an eye on him in his first few scenes. He's very funny.

There are a few surprise cameos and I won't spoil things for you. By the way, it wasn't until just NOW that I figured out where Tomai's leg injury came from, so some of it wasn't instantly clear.

Although I found some of the flashback stuff a bit tedious and a couple of scenes were downright awkward, they were balanced by some laugh-out-loud moments, so all in all, it's a nice film. As you know, I always like having a nice person that I can root for...