Eye For Film >> Movies >> Razzle Dazzle: A Journey Into Dance (2006) Film Review
When was the last time you came out of a film with a great big grin plastered across your face? If this gem of a film fails to make you think of the words joyous, daft, or laugh-out-loud-funny and if you don’t find that practically every line is quotable, well then you are one unfeeling puppy. It’s fabulous and I loved every second of it. It may suffer from comparisons to Strictly Ballroom (and as it includes the delicious Tara Morice plus a cameo from Paul Mercurio, I think the film’s makers recognised this) as well as a host of other films taking the piss out of similar institutions, like Drop Dead Gorgeous. But never mind that: this is one of those films I will tell all my friends they MUST see, especially if they’ve been having a bad year.
Ben Miller is Mr Jonathan, one of a slew of dance teachers in Sydney preparing their charges for the all important Sanosafe Group Spectacular Trophy. Mr Jonathan’s group are competing against the likes of the strict Miss Elizabeth and her perfect little corps de ballet. She is ‘old school’ while Mr J is motivated by political and world themes, inspiring his little dears by asking some of them to imagine themselves as their pets and the others as Evil Scientists with instructions like: ‘imagine your brains spewing out of your eyes…’
His peers despise him and his methods, but his parents adore him… no, really, they follow him about like love sick pandas (I’ve already used puppies). Chief amongst them is Justine (Kerry Armstrong), an appalling stage mother who pushes her daughter Tenille beyond endurance – including side lessons with one Mr Mercurio, who teaches her the Paso Doble from Strictly Ballroom… nice touch. Then there’s the ghastly Barbara, a foster mother who only takes on the talented, returning the rest immediately. No one at the children’s home dare refuse her. There’s pregnant Paulette, in the throes of separation from her gay husband and always late to class, much to the irritation of her daughter Grace. Oh and I nearly forgot mute Marianne, costume designer extraordinaire (a punky Tara Morice).
The group get through to the Finals by dint of the other winning team being in a van accident and their teacher losing a foot (where have I heard that before?) - horrid to write about but hilariously described onscreen. Off we go into a maelstrom of preparation for The Big Event, involving disdain, jealousy, kidnapping, winning, losing, crazy ideas for the performance, a gently developing love affair and some lovely turns (literally) from everyone involved – it’s a darling little fairy tale and one I shall delight in watching again.Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2007