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Mad Hot Ballroom
DVD disk
Oct 18, 2005 By: Matt Hosack
Mad Hot Ballroom order
Director:
Marilyn Agrelo

Actors:
The students of District 115
150
112

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In a post 9/11 New York, 5th grade students from Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens all vie to win a citywide ballroom dance competition. With over 6,000 students entering, challenges and heartbreak are a definite, but only one group will win a ginormous trophy.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I wasn’t in a particularly good mood when I started the feature, mostly because I had just seen seven stupid ads which even included Oprah. After a few minutes though I was quickly assuaged by these kids spirits and charm. This is a darn good documentary and I’m not just blowing smoke. These kids are living on the “streets” dealing with drugs, parents, growing up, and this competition. Of course, the movie wouldn’t be interesting without lovable kids. There’s min-Bob Dylan that was uber smart and just cracked me up! I dug a young shaft sportin’ an attitude and there was a seminole moment where a girl is sharing her aspirations and she points to New York and says, “it all happens there.”

The kids also reminded me of growing up as you get candid scenes of boys and girls talking about grownup “stuff.” It’s not all fun and giggles though as friends are disqualified or leave the group. The dancing ranges from tango to swing and is quite impressive. I kept thinking that damn these kids are good! For the final competition, I felt the tension in the room but the kids put on a splendid show. I was definitely in high spirits by the end of the feature.
THE EXTRAS
This is what you call a bare-bones DVD. No commentary, no nothing. I would have really liked some post-contest reactions from everyone involved. Even the director could have related why she wanted to make this documentary. Give a dog a bone!
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you dig documentaries, this comes as an easy recommend. Unfortunately, it comes on a very lackluster DVD with poor presentation quality and no extras to speak of.
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