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Apr 10, 2006
 Take the Lead--Antonio Can Lead Us Anywhere He Wants
 by The Blonde and The Maven

While watching CBS’s "The Morning Show," producer Diane Nabatoff caught a story on Pierre Dulaine, a dance teacher in the Public Schools of New York. She became fascinated with the idea of a man teaching inner city kids to ballroom dance. After meeting him, she knew she had to tell his story. First, the story was made more accessible by changing the location from an elementary school to a high school. It was felt that with the students a little older, more of the audience could relate to them. They also decided to fuse the two-forms of dance, ballroom and hip-hop. Dianne Houston was brought onboard to write the screenplay. She was once a dancer which would give her an understanding of the story that needed to be told. Liz Friedlander was hired to direct. She is a veteran music video director of such artists as U2 and Celine Dion. The choreographer is JoAnn Jensen, with the Taleauega Brothers, Rich and Tone, choreographing the hip-hop sequences. Also involved as a consultant was Pierre Dulaine, who inspired the Documentary Mad Hot Ballroom and whom this film is about!

Pierre Dulaine is played by Antonio Banderas (The Legend of Zorro and Once Upon a Time in Mexico). He is tired of teaching preppy rich kids for their cotillions and deb balls. After witnessing a student vandalizing a car, he decides that what these kids need is to learn ballroom dancing. He approaches the principal of an inner city high school and proposes to do just that. The principal, Augustine James, played by Alfre Woodard (The Forgotten and The Core), is at first understandably skeptical and quite hostile. He wins her over, barely, and she gives him the detention kids that no other teacher wants to handle. She bets him five dollars that he wont last the day. The students are extremely skeptical and hostile when they meet Dulaine. However, he commands attention when he walks into a room and exudes charisma with his presence. His unwavering commitment and dedication slowly inspire them to embrace his program, good manners and all.

The Blonde: I want to begin by stating that I completely loathe and detest Melanie Griffith! That said, Antonio is THE most handsome man that ever hit the Hollywood screen. He is totally gorgeous. I MEAN, REALLY, no man should be allowed to be that sexy. You could actually see his sexiness dripping off the screen into the first row of the theater. I knew we should have sat closer up! Every time he was on screen (which was 90 percent of the film), he made me drool.

The Maven: I was wondering what all that slime was about! It was so gross! And, what was all that moaning and groaning noise you were making? Everyone was staring at you.

The Blonde: EXCUSE ME! That was pining noise, not moaning. Whatever! Take the Lead was like Shall We Dance meets To Sir with Love meets Music of the Heart meets Dangerous Minds meets Mad Hot Ballroom meets Stand and Deliver meets Dirty Dancing. Did I already tell you how much I detest Melanie Griffith? Antonio is so HOT AND SEXY in this film, ladies, that you will want to go home and smack your man!

The Maven: If you are thinking that this film is formulaic, you are correct. However, it is done with such warmth and humor that it is worth knowing what will happen next. The story takes you into some of the kids lives to see how almost hopeless it is for some of them. Antonio definitely owns this film. Women will love him and men will want to be him. The Blonde was making so much noise whenever he was on screen, I felt like Rob Reiner’s mom in the When Harry Met Sally deli scene between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. After the movie I had to listen to ten minutes of The Blonde telling me how much better she would be for Antonio than Melanie Griffith is.

The Blonde: WELL, I WOULD BE AND YOU KNOW IT! I can show him what true happiness is all about.

The Maven: INTERESTING! I don’t think that is the way your exes described their time with you?

The Blonde: Now GIRL, that is just cold, very cold, and need I say untrue. I gave them ALL the happiest few months of their lives!

The Maven: BUT, they wanted a lifetime of happiness, not one! I agree with everything you say about Antonio, though, but it is his voice that gets to me the most. His accent is unbelievably sexy.

The Blonde: OH my dear Mav, I never got as far as the accent, but I will take your word for it. YA KNOW, he doesn’t have a bad side (like most actors complain that they don’t want to be filmed on their bad side). He is a g-d, a SEX g-d. His smile can melt steel. His eyes are like looking into heaven, his body is like a fine machine, his…

The Maven: Okay, that’s it. Take a break and go get your Starbucks. When you return, wear your critic hat and not your pining one!

The Blonde: Oh sure, this is because you like Melanie isn’t it? Fine, then! This was a marvelous film. The story and characters were so well defined and developed. It brings home a message to the world that ballroom dancing is not just dancing. It shows how you can learn charm, poise, style, manners, patience, trust, confidence, self-esteem and dignity to those who enter into this world of dance. This film will keep you completely intrigued. Well, AT LEAST ANTONIO WILL!!

The Maven: THAT’S IT!!!

The Blonde: Fine, I can change the Banderas subject! Are Heather Locklear and BON JOVI breaking up or not? Is Barbara doing a new tour or not? Are there more raisins in Raisin Bran Cereal? Have you ever counted how many licks there are to get to the middle of a Tootsie Roll pop? Is it true what they are saying about global warning?

The Maven: Heather is divorcing Richie Sambora. Bon Jovi is a name of the group he is in. Yes, Barb is going to tour, but she doesn’t want you in her audience; you blubber too much! Consumer Reports says there are more Raisins in Raisin Bran Cereal. That owl proved that you can’t lick the pop to the Tootsie Roll center because you always bite it too soon. It’s global WARMING and, yes, the scientists proved it to be true.

The Blonde: And that’s why YOU are the Maven. By the way, I just can’t wait until May 19th.

The Maven: It’s funny! You’re the only person I know over 25 that still gets excited and counts down the days till your birthday.

The Blonde: Hey, I am proud to be 28 years old. I have nothing to hide. However, I was referring to the opening of The Da Vinci Code. I love all of the scandal this film has created, including the trial with Dan Brown, the author.

The Maven: Then you’ll be happy to know that he was cleared of all charges accusing him of plagiarism.

The Blonde: HE WAS CHARGED WITH PLAGIARISM? Live and learn! So Mav, tell me more about Antonio’s accent…

The Maven: I don’t know more about his accent, but did you know that he is not a trained dancer? He claims to have a facility for physicality.

The Blonde: WELL DA! I would love to experience some of that facility or physicality first hand. BUT NOOOOOOOO, HE BELONGS TO MELANIE. Ya know, she really isn’t all that pretty.

The Maven: Well maybe if you got your lips plumped, he’d look at you twice. And Blonde…SHE IS PRETTY, SEXY AND SWEET.

The Blonde: YEAH, and how exactly do you KNOW that she is sweet? She is an actress, she could just be acting. If you like her so much, you take her and I’ll take Antonio!

The Maven: YOU ARE SO PATHETIC! I’m sure he prefers a woman with more maturity than a 28 year old!!!!

The Blonde: OH!  Mmmmmmmmmmmm?  Ummm!

The Maven: Wow, that answer was some of the best acting I have seen you do in years.

The Blonde: FITCH!

The Maven: If all you’re gonna do is talk about your love for Antonio, then I’m closing. This movie was entertaining to watch. You won’t be scared out of your seat, no gross out fight scenes or gore, no extreme profanity or nudity, and no politics. What you will get is some really good dancing, people being considerate to others, some charming humor and some fine acting. I rate this film a B for the breathlessness that Antonio leaves me in and the bedazzling dancing it showcases. And Blonde, if youre over George Clooney now, then I’ll take him!

The Blonde: It’s okay. I am going to keep him until Antonio leaves Mel! This film was sweet and delightful and has many life lessons to teach us all. It was fun to watch and be a part of. I too rate Take the Lead a B. If Antonio had a dancing nude scene, I would have given it an A+!

The Maven: By all means, I second that!

The Blonde: I recommend this film for all ages. Go and enjoy. For your film snacks, have some RED HOTS to go with Antonio!


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