Complete A-Z list

Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing & Charm School


Stars: Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, John Goodman

Director: Randall Miller

There's some charm (but perhaps not quite enough to persuade mainstream moviegoers to give it a try) in this tale of a dancing class that has seen better days, yet gives a new lease of life to one man.

The beginning, shot in fuzzy, bleached colours, is a bit of a turn-off. A still-grieving widower, Frank (Carlyle), listens to the tale of Steve (Goodman), who's dying after crashing his car.

Steve asks Frank to go to the dance school of the title to keep a 40-year tryst with an old girlfriend.

Frank, who attends what one character refers to as The Dead Wives Club in his spare time, goes to the school, and the film begins to run parallel stories looking at Goodman's past and Carlyle's present (and future).

Thanks to a quality cast (Donnie Wahlberg, David Paymer, Sean Astin and Danny DeVito are also in it), the tale does gradually draw you in, and there a moving scene at the end when Carlyle visits Goodman's sub-teen flame and finds her a frowzy Fag-Ash Lil with a deskful of memories.

David Quinlan

USA 2005. UK Distributor: Anchor Bay. Colour.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 20 Aug 2006