Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing And Charm School

Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing And Charm School


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Frank is a baker. Every morning he greets the ashes of his wife, who committed suicide, in an urn on the dresser. Whether it's because of the ashes, or the suicide, or his lack of self worth, Frank makes Droopy look like Mr Happy.

This man is your companion for the next hour-and-a-half. Fun? Hardly.

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He is played by Robert Carlyle, who has become Scotland's second most hunkworthy sex symbol after Ewan McGregor, a position he is going to lose once Marilyn Hotchkiss hits the streets.

Returning from work one day, Frank comes across a car wreck. The driver is barely alive. His name is Steve (John Goodman) and he has a story to tell. Frank keeps him talking until the paramedics arrive. He was on his way to the charm school in Pasadena to meet Lisa, his childhood sweetheart. Cue flashbacks of kids at dance class in the sixties.

Before Steve is shovelled into the ambulance and driven away, Frank promises he will go to Marilyn Hotchkiss' establishment and find Lisa and tell her that Steve tried to make it. He does, but no one has heard of her. He hangs around, because he has nothing better to do, and takes a shine to a one-legged estate agent (Marisa Tomei), whose step-brother (Donny Wahlberg) is being over-protective and macho-aggressive.

There is a message here and it's washed in rose water. Dancing is better than anti-depressants, better than sex. Shy girls blossom; boring guys learn cool steps. Before you can say "Bossa nova, babe?", Frank's grief support group has signed up for lessons.

What should be a romantic mush cake, with lemon icing and a cherry on top, is treacle pud, with hot fudge and molasses. The characters are either lovable eccentrics or gloomy saddos like Frank. Steve has personality, despite being cut in half, but his fat young self is less appealing.

Randall Miller's film, with its intriguing title, suggests innovation and a stamp of independence. Instead, it is sticky, predictable and as soft as marshmallow.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing And Charm School packshot
A sad baker helps a dying motorist and discovers that he's not the only one who can't dance.
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Director: Randall Miller

Writer: Randall Miller, Jody Savin

Starring: Robert Carlyle, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Mary Steenburgen, David Paymer, Donny Wahlberg, Danny DeVito, Sean Astin, Adam Arkin, Sonia Braga, Ernie Hudson, Elden Henson

Year: 2005

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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