How old is Take the Lead? Jenna Dewan was just starting to become an up and coming starlet. It’s funny, actually, as a few short months after this dance themed movie another dance themed movie would come and storm our country for the years to come (it’s Step Up! If you’ve been living under a rock since Channing Tatum graced our eyes with such cute/handsome looks!). But Jenna Dewan was only a facet of this film, the real star was Antonio Banderas (whom we all adore as Puss in Boots of course (okay, and Zorra, but really it was Puss in Boots!)). Alfre Woodard was also in this film, with her breathy voice reminding me of season two of Desperate Housewives like it was yesterday.
This wasn’t like other dance movies, which focus on hip new moves that our generation cares about (although they’re also prominently featured) it focused on the classics of ballroom dancing and the kind of things that one can learn in the process of learning these dances. Dignity, how to treat others, how to respect yourself, and other important things that every young person should know about are just a few of these lessons.
Antonio Banderas is a classic ballroom dance teacher, who owns his own studio and teaches the beautiful elite, as he has been for years, when he rides (his bicycle) and comes across an impoverished youth vandalizing a car. Catching the kid in the act, he finds an I.D. card that brings him to this inner city school where metal detectors, overworked/uncaring teachers, and frustrated kids with no other outlet for their emotions than what society has pushed them to. He makes the conscious decision to help, and Alfre Woodard puts him to good use in watching detention (because the math teacher cares too much about seven students in his advanced class than the hundreds of others to actually do anything other than complain, complain, and complain without offering any other solutions other than… COMPLAINTS!). He takes this detention and starts teaching these kids classical dance and grows to know them, care for them, and protect them from the horrors that their world puts them through.
Take the Lead is an oft forgotten movie because, well obviously because Step up 10 is like coming out next year (I jest! I jest!). Just because a much more popular movie came out around the same time, though, doesn’t mean that this film doesn’t have a lot to offer. It has fun and interesting characters (filled with the likes of Dante Basco, who many of us know to be Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation, Lauren Collins (Paige Michalchuk from Degrassi the Next Generation), Jenna Dewan from the Witches of East End (May it rest in peace), and Marcus T Paulk from Another Cinderella Story. It has moxie, a good moral, a look into the depths that inter city schools have sunken, but also the promise that it can get better even if you just need a little help sometimes.
I hope you decide to take this flick for a whirl!