April 17, 2006 12:00 PM

Antonio Banderas, Alfre Woodard, Rob Brown, Yaya DaCosta


Been there, done that, but never in shiny black dancing shoes. Like many a previous movie, Take the Lead tells how a dedicated teacher uses unconventional methods to inspire underachieving urban high schoolers. The would-be fresh twist is that Pierre Dulaine (Banderas), a professional dance instructor in New York City, reckons ballroom dancing will instill self-esteem in a class of unruly teens. (The film is inspired by the real-life Dulaine, who teaches in elementary schools.) Lead starts off with some fancy flourishes as Dulaine persuades the kids (led by DaCosta, who was runner-up on TV’s America’s Next Top Model in 2004) that his kind of dancing is cool. But as the predictable plot plays out, one wishes that the storytelling was paced more salsa than waltz. Banderas is charmingly gallant, while Woodard is amusing as the school’s doubting principal. Sorry, there’s no cameo by Drew Lachey. (PG-13)

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