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Okay, so what does a girly chick flick about ballet have in common with he-man sports movies? Give up? Both are boring for similar reasons: Sports movies (For Love of the Game, and Rudy, for example) usually feature several long, boring game scenes which are only going to interest fans of the game. Center Stage features several long, tedious ballet performances that are only going to interest fans of ballet. Since I'm not much of a sports fan, I don't generally like sports movies (although there are exceptions); and since I'm not particularly interested in ballet, either, I didn't like Center Stage.
Jody Sawyer is a ballet student at the prestigious American Ballet Academy. Her teachers don't think she's good enough to be a professional dancer. Meanwhile, she has romance problems: she becomes involved with a Russion choreographer and dancer (Ilia Kulik) who turns out to be bad boyfriend material. Subsequently she dumps him (although they continue working together) and starts dating an Andrew Keegan lookalike.
Subplots chronicle problems of Jody's fellow students, all of which are pathetically predictable and transparent.
Some of the serious lines struck me as funny because they were so stupid, phony, and contrived- no one would say that stuff in real life. Case in point: Jody's second love interest comforts her when she discovers that Kulik is a cheating jerk: "Do you think I'm an idiot for getting involved with him?" Jody sniffles. "No, I think he's an idiot for not treating you right," responds New Boyfriend Hopeful, without missing a beat. I think the person who wrote this script is an idiot - that dialogue is completely corny and unrealistically smooth. New Boyfriend Hopeful sounds full of it to me - he'd say anything to get Jody interested in him.
Think you've heard this story before? You have, and not just in countless movies. I think the writers got their idea from that annoying Backstreet Boys song I'll Never Break Your Heart. You must have heard it - it's been played about five million times. The Backstreet Boys warble dramatically about how they'll treat some girl so much better than her crummy ex-boyfriend. Oldest line in the book - a less original plot I have never seen.
And then there are the guys in this movie. Personally, I think guys look ridiculous in tights and leotards - even more so than girls. (I'm sure you ballet enthusiasts are probably mad at me by now, go ahead and send me the hate mail.) Not that the main romantic interests are particularly attractive in normal clothes either (except Andrew Keegan's twin)- were all the good- looking actors busy? And let's be realistic: how many motorcycles guys do you see doing ballet moves as they hop of their Harleys (as Kulik does in one scene)?
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Kim Basinger plays Kuki, a divorced Italian woman with a young son, Emmanuel. She marries Paolo, an adventuresome wanderlust who talks her into following him to Africa. Living in a broken-down hovel that somehow passes for a building, they encounter varied exotic animals - a lion kills their dog, Kuki chases an elephant out of her garden, Emmanuel finds himself a new pet python. (I once saw a hungry python choke a chicken to death at a petting zoo, and I don't think I'd want one of those things for a pet. They may not be poisonous, but they can literally squeeze someone to death if you forget to feed them.)
I Dreamed of Africa is slow-moving and uninteresting. If you want to watch exotic African animals romp around, don't waste your money on this film - there are nature shows aplenty on TV. And truthfully, the animals in this movie turn out to be as interesting as the ones in Disney cartoons. And they're still more fun than the human characters.
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