‘Musical Chairs’ Movie Review
With so many movies about dancing, even ballroom dancing, it’s hard to come up with a new angle on the sport, but the makers of Musical Chairs managed to do just that by telling the story of a group of people who can no longer walk finding a way to dance.
Although his Puerto Rican mother wants him to marry a nice girl and give her grandchildren, Armando (EJ Bonilla) dreams of dancing professionally and pines after dance instructor, Mia (Leah Pipes). But in a twist of tragedy, Mia’s career is cut short by a terrible car accident that leaves her paralyzed from the waist down.
Because he’s a nice guy without a single fault or flaw (one of the movie’s biggest flaws), Armando takes it upon himself to shake Mia out of her depression by encouraging her and the other patients at her rehab clinic to learn wheelchair ballroom dancing. Mia resists at first believing that this “fake” dancing could never fill the hole in her heart, but she starts to fall in love with Armando and eventually gives in, despite his mother’s best efforts to keep them apart.
Although the film is absolutely beautiful (in particular, the scene in which Armando and Mia dance in the pool) and the subject matter is more than enough to pull at your heartstrings, there’s something lacking in the script. Conflict. Armando’s mother is supposed to be the source of it, but she never really goes to great lengths to stop her son from falling for Mia. Even his jilted girlfriend, Rosa, is nice enough not to interfere. There’s very little suspense in the entire film; from start to finish, there is never any doubt that Armando will lead the patients to find their inner dancers and overcome their afflictions.
Subplots that could have made for conflict, such as one of Armando’s family members selling drugs behind his father’s restaurant, were completely dropped, and a potentially ground-breaking romance between a paralyzed black transsexual and an old-school Latino was marginalized to the point of insignificance.
I feel like this was an “almost there” sort of film. It could have been great, but thanks to a lackluster script that borrows the best bits from both dance films, opposites attract films and inspiring teacher films, it settled for just okay.
Musical Chairs had a limited release run in March of 2012. To support a move for a wider re-release, follow the movie on Facebook.