The film follows Jimmy Percer (Kogon), an aging tap dancer who seeks to enter an international dancing competition. On one hand, he has plenty of people in his corner, including his wife, Tess (Beverly Mitchell), his boss, Mr. Dalyrmple (Jim O’Heir), and his niece, Kit (Hayley Shukiar). On the other hand, a few obstacles stand in his way; for one thing, the entrance fee is pretty steep. He asks Hector, the owner of his dance studio (Carlos Alazraqui) to sponsor him, but Hector’s more interested in sponsoring younger, fitter talent. To make matters worse, Jim suffered a leg injury a couple years prior, so entering the contest may not be medically advisable.
Plot-wise, the film is nothing special, and it hits all the notes you’d expect it to. Jimmy perseveres even though not everyone believes in him, his friends and family start beckoning him to back out when things look their bleakest, and he ignores all the naysayers and powers through out of sheer force of will; it’s every underdog story you’ve ever heard.
The film is notable, however, for its performances. Kogon and Mitchell are both lovably goofy in the lead roles, and their chemistry is absolutely adorable. Every other scene they share has them trading playful barbs and giggling over each others’ antics, giving off the impression that they’re best friends on top of being happily married. The budding friendship between Jimmy and Kit is just as precious to watch.
The supporting actors shine just as brightly. Alazraqui is entertaining as the film’s quasi-villain, delivering some hilariously audacious lines. (When Hector sees the standoffish Kit staring at him, he bursts out with, “Why is this muppet staring at me? She’s giving me the willies.”) And while his role in the film is relatively minimal, O’Heir is quite endearing as Jimmy’s pragmatic-yet-understanding boss.
I would also be remiss not to mention the soundtrack. Rather than sticking to old standards, the filmmakers went out of their way to look for underrated gems. Jimmy’s big dance number is underscored with “Miss Me”, a sunny slice of retro R&B from little-known soul singer Raquel Rodriguez, and it gels perfectly with Jimmy’s peppy, playful dance style.
In short, “Dance Baby Dance”, while nothing revolutionary, is a delightful story that’s sure to leave a smile on your face by the final act.
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