1/16/12

Strictly Ballroom

Okay, I'm going to dust the cobwebs off this 1992 comic musical and encourage you to watch Scott Hastings do his "crowd-pleasing steps!" then thrill to the sound of one lone pair of trembling hands as it claps in that echoing ballroom. Goosebumps every time!

Australian Baz Luhrmann ("Australia") launched his Red Curtain Trilogy with this sweet, goofy, romantic, cartoon of a musical. The other two in this trio are "Romeo and Juliet" (1996) and "Moulin Rouge!" (2001). All three are conceived and developed with only one thing in mind: The Audience. And that's US!

These wonderful actors make it happen:
  • Paul Mercurio ("Joseph") is Scott Hastings, son of the proprietors of a struggling ballroom dance studio. His father is a hen-pecked sad sack, while his mother is an ambitious spark plug. They both agree that "this is Scott's year to win the Australian Pan Pacific Championships" and bring glory to their studio.
  • Barry Otto ("Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole") is Scott's father, quietly melting into the woodwork, as his wife runs the show.
  • Pat Thomson ("Phar Lap") is fearless as Shirley Hastings, Scott's mother who is tone deaf to everything but her own ambition. I'm sorry to say that she died the same year this film was completed and we lost a fine actress.
  • Tara Morice ("Razzle Dazzle") is Fran, the poor student stuck in Beginners, who has aspirations... She does janitorial work to pay for her lessons. It is Scott who asks her, "Do you think you could dance without those glasses?" (I LOVE clich├ęs!)
  • Bill Hunter ("Finding Nemo") is Barry Fife, who disqualifies Scott for not using Federation-approved dance steps. Hunter, who died in 2011, was part of Australia's acting aristocracy.
As you can tell, the plot swirls around an upcoming Ballroom dance contest, with Scott in a frantic search for a new dance partner, as his has been stolen away by the reigning champ. Fran wants to audition, but she's a Beginner!

Be prepared to completely buy into this plot, root for the good guys, hiss at the bad ones, watch Fran's father do an amazing Paso Doble with his mother-in-law (Fran's grandmother), and thrill to some spectacular ballroom dancing with stunning costumes. (Luhrmann's parents danced in Ballroom competitions, so he knows whereof he speaks.)

I've owned this DVD for years and it's almost worn out....
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Here is the preview:
http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi148504857/
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