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By Doug Brunell | May 18, 2006

“Take the Lead” was not a surprise. The movie didn’t come out of left field. It followed a Hollywood tradition where every few years there has to be a dance movie. There were those god-awful breakdancing films, “Flashdance,” that one with Baby, “Club Anal 2,” and others. One will come out and be fairly successful, and then two or three more will follow in a few months. They will bomb, and the genre will be silent for a few more years. In industry terms it is known as “the quiet before the storm.”

I don’t watch these movies, as dance is not an artform I truly appreciate. I especially don’t like ones such as “Take the Lead” where some guy (or girl) teaches some “tough” kids values through some “geeky” dance steps and gets through to them at the end, changing their lives forever. I don’t like ones where dancing saves a town or some s**t, or even cures cancer. I just don’t like dance movies, and I don’t know anybody who does. (Maybe I’m hanging out in the wrong circles. I suppose if I hung out with fifteen-year-old girls who go to the mall a lot, I would know quite a few people who dig these films.)

What’s more annoying than the films themselves is when they do enough business to actually start a new dance craze across the country. The news will report on how people are signing up for ballroom dance lessons and how the two soundtrack albums have stayed on the top of the charts for x number of weeks. “It seems like the old standards never go out of style,” they’ll say as they marvel at the fact that young kids seem interested. Yawn.

What I’d really like to see is that every few years a masturbation movie comes out. The lead character will vow to give up sex with other people and will then discover the joys of self-pleasure. The film, hopefully starring Scarlett Johansson, will be a hit and spawn some lesser imitators. News reports will focus on the masturbation craze that’s hitting the country. (“It’s not just for teenagers anymore,” reports Brian Williams.) Masturbation aids will be selling out at drug stores across the country. Everyone will be talking about the great orgasms they’ve had at their own hands … and then the trend will die down for a year or two until some young upstart goes to a studio exec and says, “I got this idea for a film starring Dennis Quaid where he reaches out to young gang members through masturbation. He shows them that they don’t have to be killing each other. Instead, they can be stroking off and having a much better life. Let’s be real. Nobody ever had to attend a funeral for a guy who jerked off to much.” And the idea will be approved faster than you can say “onanism.”

Unfortunately, that day will never come (no pun intended). America is too prudish about sex, even though the act of dance is a symbolic representation of the very thing we’re so uptight about. A film about breakdancers solving problems through choreographed moves on cardboard seems so much safer than a film where hand lotion or batteries are common props. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous the art of breakdancing is, or how many people m********e compared to those who dance. Hollywood has never been about realism. It’s about dreams and false hopes, and if Americans want to invest time and money in a film where Antonio Banderas teaches some juvenile delinquents how to improve their lives through dance, go right ahead. I’ll stick the fine art of self-love, though. It’s far more believable, and I think that at the end of the day I’d much rather watch someone do that than tango … especially if it’s Johansson.

Discuss Doug Brunell’s “Excess Hollywood” column in Film Threat’s BACK TALK section! Click here>>>

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