“Life Doesn’t Hold Try Outs”
Center Stagewas on sale at Target for $5 about six years ago, so my wife purchased it. Please note that this is the exact same reason why I own Bring It On and Airheads which demonstrates that the threshold of taste for anything lowers with its price and accessibility. Also of note: I unwrapped this DVD from the cellophane about 20 minutes ago so I could start this project, so, by omission and ipso facto, my wife has already admitted that this movie is inherently unwatchable.
The film starts with a scene in a New York ballet studio, and to demonstrate the high-stakes world, one parent tells another that “they” only accept 12 people.
“From the class?”
“From the planet.”
And, hey, Zoe Saldana is in this!
The yellow-haired main character is part of the chosen twelve but her parents want her to do anything else in the world because ballet is dumb or they’re afraid that she’ll go all Natalie Portman in Black Swan and have a gay fever dream about her mom.
Hey, Uhura is smoking. That’s cool for a dancer, right? She doesn’t want to go to the school or company or academy all that much and would rather get implants and work at Hooters.
Meanwhile, there’s a Jamiroquai song playing the background when Yellow Hair meets Leather Jacket. He sends her all a flutter because of his inherent leather jacket-ness and then walks away.
It turns out that Jodi Yellow Hair and Hey, Uhura are rooming together. Jodi Yellow Hair and Hey, Uhura then meet Uptight Brunette, who doesn’t approve of smoking cigarettes. This is the heart of all ballet dramas: conflict. And smoking.
The idea behind these initial scenes is to establish characters, but it’s being done in a ham-fisted and overly expositional way. That makes sense since this a terrible movie, despite the fact that I’ve never actually sat through it before. Think I’m jumping to conclusions? Well, guess again, because Jodi Yellow Hair and Hey, Uhura run into Eric O. Jones, which is his stage name. The O stands for Oprah because she is his idol. NOTHING ABOUT WHAT I HAVE JUST TYPED IS MADE UP.
Eric O. Jones rooms with the Russian and Leather Jacket’s love triangle counterpart, Seattle Charlie. South America could repopulate the rain forest with all of the wooden acting in this scene alone. Despite just walking into the room, Seattle Charlie decides that he better tell everyone that his girlfriend dumped him for leaving her back in Seattle. Already, this guy is a prick because what did he expect?
“Sweetie, I’m going off to dance at this academy in New York where the population consists of nubile young women, gay men and possibly some other guy in a leather jacket. Cool?”
“FINE! I GET IT! YOU’RE DUMPING ME!”
Montage 1: Stretching and prepping ballet shoes is hardcore.
Peter Gallagher and his eyebrows give the speech about what to expect at American Ballet Academy. He establishes that he will only be able to take three boys and three girls at the end of the year from the group of about 40 to whom he is speaking.
Hey, Uhura continues her rebellion by showing up late, not wearing the correct attire and chewing gum. She is a badass.
Also, Jodi Yellow Hair is either nervous or not very good, depending on if you ask her or anyone else watching her in the class.
After the girls finish their first class/practice they spy on the boys class and marvel at the fact that Seattle Charlie is…gasp!…straight. They discuss some gossip about how The Kathleen Donahue dumped Leather Jacket for Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows and the subsequent scandal that erupted. This doesn’t make all that much sense because the initial impression is that The Kathleen Donahue isn’t too much younger than Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows and Leather Jacket looks way, way younger than both of them, making it look like The Kathleen Donahue was robbing the cradle.
Uptight Brunette’s mom works for ABA in an administrative capacity and the two gossip about Uptight Brunette’s competition and call one of the other girls fat. See, because she’s the bad guy.
Everyone attends a ballet version of Romeo & Juliet starring Leather Jacket as Romeo and The Kathleen Donahue as Juliet. Awkward. But I guess it’s good because Hey, Uhura cries at the end.
After the show, the new students have to sell signed ballet shoes at a banquet, which they carry around in decorative baskets. Does this really happen? It’s ludicrous that dancers would part with the shoes that they spent so much time breaking in so easily. Or maybe the shoes are like baseballs and the dancers only use them once as soon as they get famous enough or go professional. But would people buy them? Do used, signed shoes gain value in some kind of secondary market? Considering there are enough for several students to carry baskets of them, I would think demand would be pretty low since the supply is so high.
Leather Jacket makes pointed and bitter remarks towards Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows and The Kathleen Donahue that make him come across as creepy. She confronts him about this while a few of the newbie students watch from the rafters, unbeknownst to the arguing ex-couple.
Eion Bailey, playing a waiter at the banquet whose eyes are as creepy eleven years ago as they are today, charmingly hits on Uptight Brunette, and she seems interested but only in that way where she’s trying to act completely disinterested.
AND MORE DANCING! Hey, Uhura is still late and rebellious, Jodi Yellow Hair still struggles with the most basic of steps, Uptight Brunette is still (apparently) really good, and the one that Uptight Brunette called fat gets called fat. Seriously, Jodi Yellow Hair really does suck.
Eion Bailey’s character’s name is Jim Gordon! OH SHIT! THIS IS A PREQUEL TO BATMAN BEGINS! He calls asking for Uptight Brunette and later reveals that he’s pre-med when he waits outside of the school for her to come out. But she is dedicated to DANCE, so she has no time to date Dr. Commissioner Gordon.
Meanwhile, Peter Gallagher’s Eyebrows calls Jodi Yellow Hair out on sucking so much. Hey, Uhura takes her out with a bunch of other people in the class to get her mind off everything and Seattle Charlie buys her margaritas and asks her to dance. I get the impression that Jodi Yellow Hair shouldn’t drink too much if she values her status of never having been served roofies.
Also, some Jersey girls make fun of the Russian for being a ballet dancer. He then salsa dances with Emily Valentine’s mother after learning his lesson and telling her he’s in the mob.
Dr. Commissioner Gordon takes Uptight Brunette bowling. But Uptight Brunette is a dancing robot that does not understand the concept of rolling a ball down a lane to knock down a set of wooden pins. She struggles with the idea of eating pizza, so I see an eating disorder storyline in her future, which makes sense with all of the fat comments directed at the girl who isn’t fat. Then they make out. And then she purges. BINGO!
The next morning, everyone is hung over or still drunk, and they get a stern talking to and are forced to wash mirrors. We then get Montage 2 of water fighting where everyone bonds and Uptight Brunette feels left out. She attempts some bonding of her own with her mom by repeating the joke she heard while out with Dr. Commissioner Gordon and his friends but her mom is more interested in talking about DANCE. When Uptight Brunette keeps trying to tell her joke, the mom asks, “What’s wrong with you? Did you start your period?” That’s the best thing ever in this movie so far.
And it’s a great place to stop for today.
Time Stamp: 42:14