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Center Stage (2000)
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Review Date: May 05, 2000
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Carol Heikkinen
Producers: Laurence Mark
Actors:
Amanda Schull
Ethan Stiefel
Plot:
A bunch of dedicated ballet-dancing teenagers must vie for a handful of openings at the prestigious American Ballet Company. Competition, jealousy, hard work and love all find their way into the story.
Critique:
Despite its unoriginal theme, this film actually managed to keep me somewhat entertained with its light drama, light humor and inspirational message for the kids. In fact, one of the main things that I liked about this movie was how it was so different than all of the other "cooler" teen flicks which pack our multiplexes every other weekend. These teenagers actually seemed to have ambitions, goals, passions for a career, as opposed to the sorry sack of sex-starved teens which usually line these films. Mind you, there's definitely a place for those boogers as well, in fact, I enjoy a good time as much as the next guy, but it was still nice to see some kids actually trying to make something of themselves. Refreshing, really. The film also featured many great dancing moments, as you would expect, and despite it being ballet-dancing, which I admit to despising personally, I still managed to remain quite interested, if only because of the superior technique utilized so masterfully by these boys and girls. But when you consider that this film is aimed primarily at teenage girls, it doesn't really make sense to read reviews of the movie coming from 50-year old men, who will more than likely, not appreciate the film on the same level as its intended audience.

I personally thought that the film was okay overall (and I still haven't hit the big 30, people!), despite a couple of so-so actors, and a few lines which were just horribly trite, I did appreciate the film's integral message of persistence, hard work and truth to oneself. Many older generation folks have probably seen this theme developed better in a handful of other films, including FAME, the obvious comparison point. But on its own, this film moves along at a quick pace, offers an endearing performance from its star, Amanda Schull, and ultimately managed to keep an ol' foggie like me involved for most of its run-time, so all in all, not too shabby. Of course, I could have done without the obvious attempt at "connecting" with the younger audience, with the final ballet show featuring a corny "modern-ballet" motif, but then again, I'm not exactly a teenage girl (anymore, that is :), so who knows how that will play to its target audience.

So see this movie if you like ballet, need some teenage inspiration, or honestly just like to see boys and girls skip around in tights, or skip the movie altogether, if you're looking for something revolutionary or truly insightful.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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