Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Musical Chairs

Would-be ‘triumph of the human spirit’ saga set among wheelchair-bound dancers blows it through shallow concept and characterizations.

March 22, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1321748-Musical_Chairs_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Like Moira Shearer’s immortal Vicky Paige in Michael Powell’s The Red Shoes, Armando (E.J. Bonilla) in Musical Chairs was born to dance. He’s the despair of his mother (Priscilla Lopez), who wants nothing more than for him to marry neighborhood girl Rosa (Angelic Zambrana) and settle down into the family restaurant business. But Armando haunts the dance studio where his secretly idolized Mia (Leah Pipes) teaches, and, when she is paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident, spearheads her rehabilitation and renewed joy in dancing by starting wheelchair dance lessons at her rehab facility. It all ends, not so surprisingly, with the big competition involving cadres of those who cannot walk kicking up their heels as best they can.

Susan Seidelman gives this massively corny tale some authentic New York flavor, unsurprising given her Desperately Seeking Susan roots, but that’s about all that can really be said for this very thin conceit that ladles on the glossy uplift. The characters of Marty Madden’s screenplay are uninterestingly 100% cardboard, especially Armando’s motley crew of a dance class, which include a disabled military vet (Morgan Spector), your requisite mouthy macho jerk (Auti Angel), and your even more requisite sassy black transvestite (Laverne Cox). Although one yearns to side with the angels and cheer these wheelchair-bound heroes on, there is no overlooking the fact that the dances they do—as presented here—are not exactly earth-shakers. Earthbound would seem to be the operative word, for in place of lower limb action, the film’s choreographer hasn’t supplied any mesmerizing upper-body moves or flashy wheelchair maneuvers that pop to delight the eye. Even the dancers’ varying, doubtlessly arduous processes in learning to move are given short shrift, so there is little real sense of the rewards of striving.

Bonilla is attractive and has a nice, brash energy, but Pipes is too sweetly bland, monotonously the sufferer. Lopez brings her always-welcome sass to her supporting role, and there are some colorful incidental characters, like a very droll Marilyn Sokol, who momentarily enlivens the film with her aggressive partnering of hunky Bonilla.



Film Review: Musical Chairs

Would-be ‘triumph of the human spirit’ saga set among wheelchair-bound dancers blows it through shallow concept and characterizations.

March 22, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1321748-Musical_Chairs_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Like Moira Shearer’s immortal Vicky Paige in Michael Powell’s The Red Shoes, Armando (E.J. Bonilla) in Musical Chairs was born to dance. He’s the despair of his mother (Priscilla Lopez), who wants nothing more than for him to marry neighborhood girl Rosa (Angelic Zambrana) and settle down into the family restaurant business. But Armando haunts the dance studio where his secretly idolized Mia (Leah Pipes) teaches, and, when she is paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident, spearheads her rehabilitation and renewed joy in dancing by starting wheelchair dance lessons at her rehab facility. It all ends, not so surprisingly, with the big competition involving cadres of those who cannot walk kicking up their heels as best they can.

Susan Seidelman gives this massively corny tale some authentic New York flavor, unsurprising given her Desperately Seeking Susan roots, but that’s about all that can really be said for this very thin conceit that ladles on the glossy uplift. The characters of Marty Madden’s screenplay are uninterestingly 100% cardboard, especially Armando’s motley crew of a dance class, which include a disabled military vet (Morgan Spector), your requisite mouthy macho jerk (Auti Angel), and your even more requisite sassy black transvestite (Laverne Cox). Although one yearns to side with the angels and cheer these wheelchair-bound heroes on, there is no overlooking the fact that the dances they do—as presented here—are not exactly earth-shakers. Earthbound would seem to be the operative word, for in place of lower limb action, the film’s choreographer hasn’t supplied any mesmerizing upper-body moves or flashy wheelchair maneuvers that pop to delight the eye. Even the dancers’ varying, doubtlessly arduous processes in learning to move are given short shrift, so there is little real sense of the rewards of striving.

Bonilla is attractive and has a nice, brash energy, but Pipes is too sweetly bland, monotonously the sufferer. Lopez brings her always-welcome sass to her supporting role, and there are some colorful incidental characters, like a very droll Marilyn Sokol, who momentarily enlivens the film with her aggressive partnering of hunky Bonilla.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Sagrada
Film Review: Sagrada: The Mystery of Creation

The fabulous 130-year work-in-progress that is Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, as well as its crazy-brilliant originator, Antonio Gaudi, is the focus of this vividly informative documentary. More »

Inside the Mind of Leonardo
Film Review: Inside the Mind of Leonardo in 3D

Documentary-feature hybrid that offers unexpected insight into the world of Leonardo da Vinci, but nonetheless suffers from a heavy hand and pretentious sensibility. More »

If You Don't., I Will
Film Review: If You Don't, I Will

Anemic drama about a forever-bickering couple who do not at all get along nor emit a scintilla of chemistry. It’s a disappointing, too-lean portrait of a marriage. More »

Mr. Turner
Film Review: Mr. Turner

In Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, arguably the year’s most gorgeous film, Timothy Spall etches an indelible portrait of the great painter, aided by a marvelous supporting cast who make the period spring alive. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Annie review
Film Review: Annie

Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »

The H obbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Film Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here