Movieline's Hollywood Life - 03/01/2006
"[A] touching drama about a bunch of sad sacks who seek a respite from life's battles in the comforting rituals of the lindy hop and the merengue."
MARILYN HOTCHKISS' BALLROOM DANCING AND CHARM SCHOOL begins with a fated meeting, as Frank (Robert Carlyle) pulls over to aid a car-crash victim, Steve (John Goodman), who is slowly dying by the side of the road. Frank is still coming to terms with his wife's suicide, so when Steve spins him a story about the dance school of the title, he decides to attend classes himself. Steve informs Frank that he was in love with a girl named Lisa (Camryn Manheim), who danced at the school when he was a 12-year-old boy. Now, some 40 years later, Frank was on his way to the school to meet her again, hoping to rekindle their flame. Director Randall Miller (CLASS ACT) neatly divides the story into three parts, providing flashbacks to flesh out Steve's story, showing Frank's desperate attempts--along with a paramedic team--to keep Steve alive, and illustrating what happens when Frank makes his way to the school. As the story pings back and forth, Frank arrives at the school intending to tell Lisa what happened to Steve, but fails to find her. What Frank does find, however, is Meredith (Marisa Tomei), a woman he hopes will fill in the aching gap left by the death of his wife. As Frank slowly falls in love with Meredith while continuing his search for Lisa, the film gently arcs through some sentimental material that should appeal to viewers who enjoy a good tearjerker.