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Strictly Ballroom (1992)


That's about perfect an image as could exist for this film... check out that weirdo in the corner!
That's about perfect an image as could exist for this film... check out that weirdo in the corner!

Genre: Comedy Romance Drama (Australia)

Starring: Paul Mercurio (Exit To Eden"Adrenaline Junkies"), Tara Morice 

Directed By: Baz Luhrmann (Moulin RougeRomeo + Juliet)

Overview: This is the scandalous tale of an up and coming Australian Pan Pacific Championship ballroom dancer, risking it all for the sake of his own original dance moves. When his partner refuses his radical style, he has to find someone to take her place.

You may remember director Baz Luhrmann best as the director of the surprisingly Squish-approved Moulin Rouge. This Australian director does again – or rather does it first with Strictly Ballroom, one of the most bombastic, outrageous and ridiculous film I've seen in a long time, and I mean in that almost early Peter Jackson madness found in Bad Taste and Dead Alive.

As stories go, it’s predictably unoriginal in its comfortable formula of “sexy boy meets frumpy, yucky-skinned girl because his hot original partner girl dumped him for a less controversial, more professional dancer boy and our hero doesn't like ugly girl but teaches her to dance anyway cause he needs to practice his bold moves with someone and she’s the only taker and he wants to try his moves at the Australian Pan Pacific Championship Ballroom Tango Latin competition”... you know, that old nut of a story.

The partner who doesn't need Scott's unorthodox GYRATING MADNESS!
The partner who doesn't need Scott's unorthodox GYRATING MADNESS!

Had Strictly Ballroom been a serious attempt at making a dance-musical, it would've most likely failed in my books, but luckily this is Comedy first, dance second and takes pride in not taking itself any bit seriously mostly due to the downright freakish characters. Our hero, Scott Hastings (Paul Mercurio), is the most ‘normal’ of our crew, his only penchant being an overwhelming need to dance his own moves. His bad-skinned amateur partner Fran (Tara Morice) and her Portuguese family are all wonderful caricatures. Scott’s mother, Shirley (Pat Thomson) is a wide-eyed, large-mouthed histrionic who just can’t understand why her son would go off the deep end with his wanton gyrating. His too-quiet, weirdo father Doug (Barry Otto) and his comb-over has a wonderful story arc. Watching him dance awkwardly in his slacks is a wacky highlight. But it’s secondary characters and their perfect casting that lay down a baseline of the strange with their toupees, large coifs and big teeth, such as Pan Pacific Championship President Barry Fife (Bill Hunter) and long-faced enemy competitor Ken Railings (John Hannan).

The dancing is entertaining as all Hell, the costumes are consistently something out of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival and, being Australian, Strictly Ballroom gets an infusion of a foreign boost that only adds strangeness. Although Strictly Ballroom is a production with a lower budget - Boz's first feature in fact - it succeeds completely.

The poor broken mother who can't understand where her son went wrong,... his own moves INDEED!
The poor broken mother who can't understand where her son went wrong,... his own moves INDEED!

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 9 Script: 8 Plot: 7 Mood: 10

Overall Rating: 84% (Watch Their Step)

I let Girlfriend of Squish pick what we’d be watching this wonderful evening. Immediately, she says, “Oh, Strictly Ballroom! I heard it was great.” The awesome thing about Squish is that he will watch anything without question if it’s 1001 list homework. What’s great about Girlfriend of Squish, apart from being plain old awesome is that she usually picks pretty awesome films.

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I love this movie. I love it unabashedly despite it being a dippy ballroom dance version of a sports movie, despite its predictability, despite everything. It makes me really, really happy to watch it.


And "I wanna dance with Fran." 

I am so jazzed you liked this movie - surprised, but jazzed.  It's acid trippy fun.

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