Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School
Most quirky, sentimental indie films are unbearably precious and contrived, and this 2005 dud is no exception. Director Randall Miller, expanding on his own 1990 short (parts of which are uneasily spliced into the film), piles on flashbacks within flashbacks, but the movie is practically plotless. It involves a grieving baker (Robert Carlyle, an old hand at this brand of schmaltz) who keeps an appointment for a dead man at the titular dancing school and finds himself cured by the healing powers of dance. TV veteran Miller fills every role with a familiar face, and the movie becomes a veritable parade of C-listers, from Sean Astin to David Paymer to Adam Arkin to Ernie Hudson. However, most of the performances are weak, with even-stiffer-than-usual work from Mary Steenburgen and Marisa Tomei.