Billy Elliot Movie Review

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"Just because I like ballet, it doesn't mean I'm a poof," says 11-year-old British mamma's boy Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell). And that just about sums up the story of this oddball child prodigy. After all, when a lad from a northern British mining town forsakes his granddad's boxing gloves for a pair of satiny ballet slippers, it's more than the neighbors and townsfolk can comprehend and, therefore, inherently good cinematic drama.

Beyond the fact that the whole coal-miner's-kid-has-talent-and-big-dreams genre has been horrifically overdone from the earliest days of English-language narrative, Billy Elliot (aka Dancer) is actually a treat to watch. Maybe it's just the funny accents, but the dialog comes off fresh and surprising, even when it's just Billy's dad (played by Gary Lewis) saying some stock like, "No son of mine is going to be dancing ballet." In fact, Lewis conveys an intense fury through his role as the apparently ignorant father, while maintaining a sense of depth and dimension that is, at times, endearing.

Debut screenwriter Lee Hall has thrown this film against the backdrop of the 1984 English miners' strike, adding richness to the otherwise banal family drama. Yet other attempts at broadening the lives of these characters fail entirely to be interesting. For instance; the typical and unsurprising shots at sexual discovery, the completely pointless presence of a cross-dressing, gay schoolyard buddy as a pretense for God knows what--it just comes off cheap and stupid--and a happy-go-lucky ending that made everyone in the audience (except for two fat ladies directly in front of me) want to regurgitate their popcorn and Kit Kats.

Ultimately, though, Billy Elliot is a funny, charming movie. The cast is loveable and believable. And the almost-entirely-T. Rex soundtrack worked magically next to Jamie Bell's subtly awkward dancing to create a memorable, satisfying film.

Pose, Billy!

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Billy Elliot Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 2000

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