This movie was on my TBW list forever and I should have really left it there-forever. If you're expecting to see a movie along the lines of Dirty Dancing or Shall We Dance, don't bother with this one. But I'll get into that in a minute. First the good (there isn't much)...I was surprised at the number of familiar faces in this movie. Aside from Marissa Tomei, there was John Goodman, Donnie Walhberg, Mary Steenbergen, Sean Astin, Danny DeVito (in a cameo), David Paymer and Allen Arkin to name a few. I didn't really care for Robert Carlyle in the lead role, but I really enjoyed John Goodman's performance throughout most of the movie.
Sadly that's mostly what I liked about the movie. Now for the bad. First of all, this movie really isn't about dancing. It's a sad movie (or it could have been, if they had done it right). It moves REALLY slow and never really goes anywhere. The main character is a new widower and as a widow myself, I hated the way his grief group was portrayed. It was all men, which I found strange, but also the way the grief counselor was practically ridiculing them was disturbing. The movie flashes back and forth and is mainly told from John Goodman's POV. Long story short, he asks Robert Carlyle to go to the dancing school in his place, which is where Robert meets Marissa Tomei. I found it weird that a man who claimed to have never danced before, suddenly picked up the dances just by watching Mary Steenbergen for about two minutes. There was no real dance instruction and no development of the characters. He does come to terms with his wife's death but ends up scattering her ashes in the place where she had passed away, which was incredibly tacky, given the way she died.
Another thing that bothered me is that this movie shows boys smoking-boys that are clearly 12 years old or younger and also shows them beating up girls, calling them and other boys disgusting names, etc.
***I have to add spoilers here so don't read on if you don't want to know. ****As I said before, the movie switches back and forth between three different "storylines". John Goodman's is told in flashback. He gets into an accident which Robert Carlyle witness after the fact and stays with him in the ambulance while the paramedics work to save him. John tells Robert that he's supposed to meet this woman at the dance school-the woman is a girl that he went to dance school with as a kid (the one he beat up). He asks Robert to go in his place to meet this woman. At the end of the movie we find out what had transpired to bring him to where he met Robert Carlyle. Up until that part, I had sympathy for his character, because he told his story with such heartfelt emotion that it was rather sad. But his true backstory was a huge disappointment and I no longer felt sorry for him. Robert does meet the woman in question but she is complete witch, who doesn't even remember her planned "date" with John Goodman. I found that kind of sad given the fact that it was so prominent throughout the movie.
The more this movie dragged on, the angrier I became and the less I liked it. I didn't expect much out of it, but this was far worse than I ever imagined.