Listen up, America! I am now taking requests for terrible/campy/low-budget/what-the-what movies to watch and review – can you even handle it?!?! This is gonna open the floodgates and result in my watching a LOT of Tyler Perry movies, I just know it. But for now, I’m nothing but 100% optimistic about how much I’m going to enjoy these reviews!!!
And the first entry into this brave new world is – “Center Stage”. This is some bullshit ballet movie that my dear friends Dani and Kat have been raving about for YEARS. I genuinely don’t know if they love it in an ironic “Leprechaun In Da Hood” way, or if they really are moved by the majesty of the dance or whatever. All I know is they are very excited for me to sit through this, and so let’s begin. PLACES, EVERYONE!! (That’s a dance phrase, right?)
The tagline is “Life Doesn’t Hold Tryouts”. <—- I’ll just leave that here for you.
We open on a very intense audition for scholarships to the American Ballet Academy in NYC, as lithe young dancers bounce all over creation and nervous parents wait outside. One parent tells another that the school only takes 12 new dancers “out of the whole planet”. Oh yeah? Are they auditioning all over the world, lady? You better get moving or you’ll be late for your “World’s Most Hyperbolic Parent” audition. J/K!! You don’t have to audition, you’re already in.
We see some of the dancers who are awarded the coveted scholarships. There’s Jody – the corn-fed white girl who I can already tell is going to be our grating protagonist. She’s so blooooonde, you guys. Then there’s Eva – played by Zoe Saldana who rules. In this movie however, she’s playing a sassy street-smart chick who probably has a lot of natural talent but who’s attitude will stand in the way of any true success.
Then there’s Maureen, who walks in wearing a black leotard on the day they move into the dorms, so like – fuck her. Also, she’s played by the actress who was the super-bitch to Melissa Joan Hart (Lazy-eye McGoo) in “Drive Me Crazy”, so I DOUBLY hate her.
Then there’s fabulous Erik, who introduces himself as Erik *O* Jones in honor of Oprah and who I’m already in love with; Sergei the Russian; Charlie the handsome guy who walks in and announces his girlfriend dumped him for going to school here (DO YOU THINK MAYBE HE CAN FIND LOVE AT SCHOOL *SNORT CHOKE SUBTLETY*); and finally Cooper. Cooper is some hot shot ballet star I guess, and you know he must be a dancer in real life which is why they hired him for this movie, because he looks like this:
I wonder if Jody will have to choose between these two guys. Publicity stills from the movie have me believing YES:
School’s in session, y’all! Peter Gallagher is Jonathan, the school Captain or whatever. Day one of class, and he’s like, “Hey new students! You guys are all butts!” You gotta break ’em down to build ’em back up. His second-in-command is a frosty bitch named Juliette, who is already on Eva’s case because her leotard isn’t black and the gum in her mouth isn’t Orbit. Will poor Eva ever fit in here?!?!
Maureen’s Mom works at the school, and they spend their lunches together hating on the other girls and being just real grade A c-bags.
We see Cooper in action in the school’s production of some mess that isn’t The Nutcracker. The Nutcracker or get the fuck out, ballet companies. We also get some back story on his ex-girlfriend Kathleen, who left him for Jonathan or something. Tension!!
Rehearsal montages!!! Close-ups of bloody feet!! Jody kind of sucks a little bit, and when Eva stands up for her in class, she gets thrown out. Awwwwww junk! And instead of running after her loyal friend who may have just blown her only shot at a ballet career to defend her, Jody runs into the head office to plead her case. She is not a ride or die bitch. Jonathan agrees to give her another chance, but not before telling her her body is terrible and that her dreams are bullshit. Ahahahaha – I’m kind of loving this guy.
All these grueling dance scenes (and the wine, let’s be honest) are making me pretty confident I could have been a ballerina. Look at this foot-dealy I did! Just like a pro-fesh-unal!
You know those are really my feet because you can see the webbed toes and WHY DID I PUT THAT ON THE INTERNET?!?!
Back to the movie: Eva was kicked out of class but not school, and suggests a night out to celebrate Jody being the worst. So they go out dancing (SERIOUSLY?!?) and there’s some real sexual tension between Jody and Charlie, who I forgot about until just now.
Meanwhile, awful Maureen is on a date with a charming, handsome and affable pre-Med student from Columbia; because life is unfair and everyone who was mean to you in elementary school is now rich and famous and dating that teacher you always had a crush on. You remember – the gorgeous one who believed in you? Yeah. That one.
So Dr. Cool Dude (I’m not looking his name up – this story thread is making me angry) takes Maureen bowling, and she’s like, “What’s bowling?”, and ugggggggh. There is a very intense stare-down between Maureen and a slice of pizza, and I guess she’s going to be our eating disorder for this film. Oh, for the love of Nancy!!!
She throws up her pizza and then tries to be a normal human being around her awful mother, but to no avail. Don’t try and make me feel bad for you, Maureen! Your countenance chafes me.
Jody needs a break from ballet, and so goes to the world’s weirdest YMCA elective dance class. Everyone is making out, and they’re dancing to an awful Mandy Moore song, and Cooper is there and eye-fucking her. After class he takes her for a ride on his motorcycle and back to his super cool dancer’s loft for some wine that’s totally not roofied.
They bone and it’s weird.
Back at school on Monday morning there are auditions for a student show that Cooper is choreographing. Jody gets a part in it, and is SUPER OBVIOUS about having had sex with him, thanking him with desserts and implied hand jobs. OK! Meanwhile, Eva gets a shitty part in Jonathan’s show, and a life lesson about kowtowing to the man if you’re going to get what you want. Ooof.
The group decides to go out to celebrate wonderful Erik’s birthday, and they are *those* assholes that I used to see on the streets of NYC all the time:
Where are the dirty bombs when you really need them? (JUST KIDDING, NSA)
Now that they’ve done the horizontal movement, Jody is obsessing over Cooper – who is straight FREEZING HER OUT. He actually says to her that he wants what he wants when he wants it, which is the 2000 movie version of “Bitch, you knew what this was”. But Charlie gives her some great advice: “Whatever you’re feeling, just DANCE IT.” Yes. Yes, of course. Feeling hurt? Angry? Like you got off on the wrong floor for a job interview and you’re already running late? Just dance it!!! Charlie – you sweet, simple doofus. You and Jody are perfect together.
A background character gets kicked out of school for being a voluminous size 2. It makes the girls think. Maureen thinks on it and decides to re-dedicate herself to her eating disorder. When Dr. Cool Dude confronts her about it and offers to help her, she spits back AND I QUOTE: “I am the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy – who the hell are you? NOBODY.” Ooooh, I hope Doc can write prescriptions already, because he’s gonna need some BURN OINTMENT.
Back at school, Juliette sees Eva practicing after hours, and realizes that deep down she really does care about dance and that maybe the attitude is just a protective front. Yeah, DUH – we all knew that already Juliette. This is why you teach dance and not logic. Erik ( <3 ) gets hurt while practicing Cooper’s stupid show, and cannot dance. So Cooper decides he’ll step in for him, sending Jody into a tailspin, and I just haaaaaate these two so much. Not only are they taking screen time away from Erik, but they are also weirdos who look like the Children of the Corn all growsed up. Let’s cleanse our palates with more wine.
That Drunk Baby is my spirit animal.
Seeing Erik get hurt makes Maureen think about life and shit, and she runs back to her boyfriend and begs his forgiveness. Why can’t I find a still of her awful cry-face? It rivals Claire Danes’. You’ll have to make do with Dr. Cool Dude’s reaction shots:
And they make up and Maureen realizes some things are more important than dancing, blah blah blah. But like – the shows that have been choreographed by Jonathan and Cooper are tomorrow!! She better be ready – these shows will decide who gets the 3 coveted spots in the Ballet Company, apparently. Did I miss that? Did they ever say that before just now?
No time to figure out if I just had a stroke, Jonathan’s show is starting, and OH MY STARS MAUREEN ISN’T EVEN THERE, EVA IS DANCING HER PART WHAT THE BALLS.
Eva is crushing Maureen’s part because Maureen is out, yo. She tells her Mom that while she doesn’t have the heart for dance anymore, she definitely does have bulimia. Her Mom is like, “I’m hearing that you’re skinny, is that a crime?” And then an anvil drops on her head, because I am tired of this awful bitch. This is some Namond’s Mom-level bitchery, and you guys should all watch “The Wire” so you understand my references. I want us to connect on many levels.
Eva kills it, obviously – and Jonathan’s show is a success because of her. Now Cooper’s show begins, and it begins with him driving a motorcycle onto the stage and dancing to Michael Jackson. Way to turn ballet on it’s head, dude!! Next he simulates sex with Jody, and no one in the audience is uncomfortable enough to call the police, apparently.
This whole righteous ballet basically tells the story of Jody – dumb girl gets had by sexy (?) bad-boy dancer, even though nicer dancer Charlie wants to treat her right and let her wear skirts that go below the knee. Who will she choose? Will she ever wear provocative colored leotards, and bright lipsticks?
Cooper’s show is also a huge success – even without Erik – which I didn’t think was possible. How can anything be good without Erik snapping his fingers and rolling his eyes and throwing shade at everyone? Right after the curtain call, Jonathan starts pulling people into his office to tell them whether or not they made the company. Duh Duh Duh DUUUUUUUUUH.
Eva is offered a position in the company, and more importantly so is Erik. Is this review coming across as a love letter to Erik? Because if not I will try harder.
Cooper is starting his own company because he is the first ballerina to ever drive a motorcycle on stage, so fuck you! He offers Jody a spot as a Principle Dancer, and she takes it. Meanwhile Charlie gets into the company with Eva and Erik, and he also gets asked out on a date by Jody. They have a cute moment together at the end, but all I can focus on is how many TEETH these kids have between the two of them. I mean – it’s all chompers:
Everyone is off to a great career in dance, seems like. Except Maureen, whose consolation prize is a supportive guy who’s way out of her league. And that’s a wrap!!! People danced their feelings, the dialogue was banana hammocks, and no one Black Swan-ed. Prett-ay…prett-ay good bad movie.
But trust – it was bad.
*Photo Credit: www.zoe-saldana.com
**Photo Credits: Columbia Pictures