This film was the surprise hit of 1992, playing for months in London cinemas. Paul Mercurio plays Scott, a talented dancer with a streak of individualism that does not endear him either to his partners, the judges of the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix, or his ambitious dance tutor mum. Frumpy Fran (Tara Morice) is the only woman who will partner him, and she utilises her Spanish background to bring heart, soul and pasa doblé rhythm to Scott's ambitious style.
While the plot of this Australian film may seem a bit familiar (the Ugly Duckling meets Dirty Dancing), the whimsical tone and superb dance sequences will make you forget the movie's predictability. Scott (Paul Mercurio) is a champion ballroom dancer who wants to dance "his own steps". Fran is the homely, beginning dancer who convinces Scott that he should dance his own steps... with her. Complicating matters are Scott's domineering mother (Pat Thompson), a former dancer herself, who wants her son to win the Australian Pan Pacific Championship (the same contest she lost years ago), and a conniving dance committee that is determined that "there are no new steps!" The dancing is enjoyable, yet not overwhelming, and the movie strives hard not to take itself too seriously (the beginning of the film is even styled as a pseudo-documentary). Strictly Ballroom, while not so subtly imparting its moral ("A life lived in fear is a life half-lived"), is a laughable romp that's sure to be a crowd pleaser. --Jenny Brown, Amazon.com --This text refers to the DVD edition.See all Product description
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Scott Hastings is the ballroom dance prodigy who since being groomed to win the all important Pan-Pacific Grand Prix championship from the age of 6 looks like he could be throwing it all away by continuing to use un-registered and therefore illegal dance steps in his routine. His mother is shocked and dismayed that Scott could throw his chance of the title, his dance coach, Les Kendell is similarly gob smacked but most effected of all is Scott dance partner, who quits dancing with Scott and takes up with arch rival, the peroxide blonde Ken Railings.
Scott on the other hand is less concerned and seems more bothered with trying to dance true to the tune in his heart, a feeling that is shared by plain beginner dancer Fran. Scott and Fran begin to practice in secret, Scott deciding that his mother and Les wouldn't approve of such an unattractive and unorthodox partner and Fran deciding that her authoritarian and unforgiving Latino father would definitely not approve of her associating with such a boy. The backdrop the whole film is the outrageous and colourful world of Australian Ballroom Dance championships. There's more sequins and fake tan going on here than ever seen in one place before. Overseeing it all is chairman of the dance association, the toupeed and orange Barry Fife.
As I say, it doesn't take the brains of an Archbishop to work out what is going to happen here but the enthusiasm and energy that the pretty unknown cast bring to the film makes it almost compulsive viewing. Both Paul Mercurio (Scott) and Tara Morice (Fran) bring a charming innocence to their roles and it's really nice to see a proper ugly duckling to beautiful swan story. There's great support from the rest of the cast but both Pat Thomson and Bill Hunter deserve special mentions.
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