Late to the Dance: Mad Hot Ballroom Review

“Mad Hot Ballroom” (Marilyn Agrelo)

J & I watched Mad Hot Ballroom last night and came to the same conclusion: the kids were fun and interesting to watch, they made some fairly profound statements, and seeing how this ballroom dancing program touched some of their lives was pretty darn inspirational and lovely.

But the movie itself was kinda crappy. Not horrible, but just not well edited and, more importantly, didn’t seem to have any kind of narrative muscle. Introducing the previous year’s champions 4/5ths of the way through the movie seemed a huge misstep and drastically undercut the potential strength of the stories being told. We also wondered why there were so few interviews with the parents of these kids. Yes, seeing them all practicing the tango and swing dancing is cute, but they could have sacrificed a good deal of that in order to make the story of these kids and this program far more compelling.

I would recommend it as “supper time” watching, if you are the type of person who, like me, watches tv during the cooking and eating of supper. The kids are enchanting at times, and seeing the hope and determination of 10 year olds always touches something special in our memories of ourselves and our hopes for the future (well, at least it does so for me), but the movie ends up feeling a bit slight and empty if you sit down and give it your full attention.

On this day..