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Running Time:
1 hour, 48 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for thematic material, language and some violence

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
There are some enjoyable dance sequences and a magnetic and charming Antonio Banderas in the lead, but the story is far too predictable and way too unbelievable.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: 7 deleted scenes; 3 trailers remixed by internationally known DJ's; 3 behind-the-Dance featurettes; You Take the Lead: interactive Tango demonstration; Commentary by director and editor; and more!



Take The Lead
Antonio Banderas plays a teacher at an academy where he teaches debutantes-in-training how to waltz for their cotillions. He volunteers to spend some time working at an inner-city high school in Manhattan. When he pitches the idea of teaching ballroom dancing to the no-nonsense principal Augustine James (Alfre Woodard), who runs her school with the iron fist, he's met with more than a little incredulity. But being short-staffed she decides to test him by assigning him to their after-school detention program.

There he runs into an assortment of badass hoodlums, mostly African-Americans with some Latinos and one white kid thrown in for diversity. They all greet the Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne records he plays for them, with unsurprising disdain. But after watching him and one of the students from the academy do a particularly hot tango, the next thing you know they're all dancing. They begin to combine Banderas' classical footwork with their own hip-hop moves and after a few dramatic moments they're competing against his rich white students in the citywide ballroom competition.

Antonio Banderas gives a commanding, committed performance, with a cast that's made up of both dancing actors and acting dancers. Memorable among them is Rob Brown ("Finding Forrester") and Yaya DaCosta an attractive newcomer who do their best to keep things believable.

Unfortunately, as kinetically directed by music-video's Liz Friedlander in her first feature assignment, the film struggles to sustain a rhythm, bouncing back and forth between the spirited dance sequences and the gritty atmosphere of the mean streets of New York. And when it looks like the film's finally going to take off, it just plods along with a bunch of familiar clichés, especially during the choppy finale.






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