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Based on the true story of the professional dancer Pierre Dulane (Antonio Banderas) - inspiration for the documentary, Mad Hot Ballroom - who runs a dance school. When he volunteers to teach dance in the New York public school system, he is met with disdain and resistance. But while his classic background at first clashes with his students' contempo tastes, there is a meeting of the mindsets.

Review by Louise Keller:
A feel-good story using music and dance to guide problem kids onto the straight and narrow, Take The Lead is entertaining, although not the showstopper we might hope for. Antonio Banderas charms with his elegant demeanour and a vital young cast inspires with passionate performances. There's real substance in the film's themes which addresses the ability for wayward inner-city kids to establish a sense of self esteem and dignity, but I missed emotional highs and lows, partly due to its formulaic and predictable treatment.

Thanks to Baz Luhrmann whose Strictly Ballroom initially parted the curtains of popularity, ballroom dancing has tangoed its way into our hearts over the past 15 years. The juxtaposition of ballroom with hip hop is an incongruous one, and the dance lesson in which two different styles of music are played simultaneously is conceptually stimulating. Banderas has enough magnetism to glue the film together, as Pierre Dulaine, the impeccably dressed dance teacher with the melancholy air. We don't get to know much about Pierre's back story, but the hint of sadness and one key scene with Rob Brown's battler Rock, make it clear that there is sound motivation behind his mission with the kids relegated to detention. All the cast is excellent and when the rebellious group is unexpectedly given an exhibition of a sensual tango by sexy Morgan (Katya Virshila), we understand why they are impressed.

The subplots about Rock and LaRhette (Yaya DaCosta) whose problems give them more in common than they think, and poor little rich kid Caitlin (Lauren Collins) who finds herself more at home with the outcasts work well as well as the implied romance between Pierre and Laura Benanti's Tina. If the storyline has a problem, it comes at the end, when the supposedly climactic dancing competition scene reaches a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion. It's an enticing soundtrack with a diverse selection of music from Nat King Cole and Lena Horne to Jae Millz and Kem.

There are plenty of special features on the DVD, including audio commentary, deleted and alternate scenes plus featurettes including multiple angles of the tango scene.

Published October 5, 2006

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CAST: Antonio Banderas, Alfre Woodard, Rob Brown, Yaya DaCosta, Brandon D. Andrews, Dante Basco, John Ortiz, Laura Benanti, Marcus T. Paulk

PRODUCER: Christopher Godsick, Michelle Grace, Diane Nabatoff

DIRECTOR: Liz Friedlander

SCRIPT: Dianne Houston

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Alex Nepomniaschy

EDITOR: Robert Ivison

MUSIC: Swizz Beatz, Aaron Zigman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Paul D. Austerberry

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes



PRESENTATION: Feature 16/9 letterbox ratio 1.85:1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary with Director Liz Friedlander and Editor Robert Ivison; Deleted / Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary - 7 scenes run time 5mins; You Take The Lead: Multi Angel Tango - sequence contains multiple angles of the tango scene - runs 1min ; Meet the Dungeon Kids - Featurette runs 16mins; Between The Steps: A Provile of Pierre Dulaine - Featurette runs 16mins; Liz, Swizz and Ziggy: The Director & Her Music Team - Featurette runs 10mins

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: September 21, 2006

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