Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mad Hot Documentary

Anyone who has not seen "Mad Hot Ballroom" should immediately put it on their queue or go to their local Blockbuster and rent it. Both HH and I wanted to shout out the window, "See this movie!" right after we watched. More than a dance movie. More than an issues film. This is entertaining, enlightening, and sweet.

We meet several groups of schoolkids in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx (and eventually Queens, the winners of the previous year) as they train for a ballroom competition among New York City's public schools. They are 5th graders on the cusp of teenhood, with backgrounds and personal development as different from one to the next. They are both older and younger than their chronological ages: they know what adulthood means but they don't want it.

They discuss their parents' divorces, the kind of boys they want to date and marry, what it's like to dance with a girl who leads, why the Bible says gay marriage is okay. They are amazing kids, frank and open and smart, and dancing ballroom -these old-fashioned styles of movement - has an influence beyond anything they could have predicted. One girl who was clearly on the "wrong path," straightens herself up all on her own. One boy who might have joined a gang steps up and becomes a leader.

And they can dance! I loved how they supported one another, how they didn't become competitive among themselves. I would have liked to have seen a little better sportsmanship being encouraged by the teachers, especially the youngest woman who couldn't help but tear up as she talked about their progress, but eventually I think they all got the right message.

An amazing, wonderful film. How many stars can I give it?