Kids from the ghetto make good in director Liz Friedlander's patronising drama Take The Lead. This time it's the power of salsa that lifts the spirits of the urban downtrodden with Antonio Banderas starring as real-life dance teacher Pierre Dulaine. Between the earnest speechifying, the Spaniard does bring a welcome sense of mischief, but he's treading where too many have gone before. Besides the clichés, a tangle of subplots leaves the film dragging its heels.
Friedlander's camera meanders among an ensemble of disaffected New York teens with Dulaine struggling to bring them in line to compete at a posh ballroom dancing competition. Most predictable of all is young street tuff Rock who "don't want nothin' to do with dis" ballroom business because it interferes with his life of petty crime and general loitering in the shadows looking moody. He's played by Rob Brown who's done it all before in the similarly themed Coach Carter and Finding Forrester. Of course his tough exterior is just a front, but sadly there are no hidden surprises in this script.
"FAILS TO CAPTURE AN HONEST MOMENT"
Alfre Woodard is underused as the no-nonsense school principal and even Banderas has little to work with as the headlining star. The film is based on a true story yet Friedlander skates over the complexities of real life, taking hasty snapshots of each character and failing to capture an honest moment. A scattering of dance sequences that fuse hip-hop and classical beats provide a few shots of energy, but Take The Lead otherwise plods through the motions.