Saturday, July 13, 2013

In Defense of Center Stage

You know what? I'm not going to feel bad anymore about liking the 2000 movie, Center Stage.

Because, as far as sports movies (yes, I'm calling ballet a sport) go, it might be one of the best ones. As the majority of the leading cast were professional ballet dancers. And one Olympic champion figure skater (Hi, Ilia Kulik!). And then the cast members that weren't dancers were all playing roles that required actual acting- like the breakthrough performance of the still-not-appreciated-enough-nor-given-good-enough-roles Zoe Saldana.

Zoe Saldana, who I cheered for when she popped up in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie because of how much I loved her in Center Stage. Zoe Saldana, the actress that I have watched terrible things like Crossroads and Avatar for, just because I knew she'd at least be interesting.

Yes, I am praising Center Stage and claiming James Cameron's Avatar a terrible film on the level of a Britney Spears vehicle all in one post. I understand if your mileage varies- I'm just saying I'm not apologizing for liking Center Stage anymore.

Center Stage isn't a great movie overall, I admit that. But it's fucking entertaining. And a better ballet movie than Black Swan. Although, at least Black Swan had some reasoning for how characters managed to change their entire outfit, make-up, hair style, and toe shoes in the blink of an eye while they were still supposed to be on stage in front of a live audience.

That moment still breaks my brain a little bit in the end ballet. Not to mention the super-awkward simulated sex ballet movies done moments before that- with Jodie's parents in the audience watching. I'm still amazed that when her parents find her backstage and praise her performance, there's not a moment where one of her parents just goes, "But did you have to strip down to your bra and panties and pretend to have sex in front of everyone? Did that Cooper boy force you to do that? Do we need to get a lawyer, sweetie?"

But, still, despite the reality break and ballet sex, that last ballet is really fun to watch. It beats any final play of a fictional football team any day. And makes it so you almost don't roll your eyes at how all of the main kids got Magical Happily Ever After endings to their stories. Not to mention how both the ballet and Jodie's speech to Peter Gallagher make you realize how much Amanda Schull looks like a prettier and better haired version of Jennie Garth as there's a lot of "I choose me" vibing going on there.

And, yes, Ethan Stiefel is quiet the terrible actor and his character is hilariously all over the place (with a never-ending supply of low-cut tank tops to show off his dancer pectoral muscles). Sascha Radetsky isn't much better, but he just needs to play the sweet guy and he achieves that pretty easily.

You know who's really good at playing a sweet and loyal boyfriend in the film, though? Eion Bailey. I was probably 45 minutes into the film before I realized that the vaguely Paul Rudd-esque guy was, in fact, August from Once Upon A Time. Before getting that mid-30s vaguely-distressed stubble-y look, his chiseled jawline was the jawline of a pretty boy and not a handsome (sometimes wooden) man.

And, finally, by re-watching the film for the first time in years, I realized I'm still in awe and envy of Amanda Schull's hair. Center Stage is worth watching just to marvel at the main character's hair and hair styles.

So, go watch Center Stage now! It's all on YouTube!

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