A jealous dance mom takes extreme measures to ensure her daughter wins a scholarship to an exclusive dance academy. But the victim's mother will do whatever necessary to protect her own daughter from the rival mom's evil scheme.
Lawyer Dean Grayson's spoiled-rotten, fame-obsessed wife Jeanette is dead-set to force their teen daughter, whom he would allow other choices, to succeed at the dance career she failed to cash in on. Ignoring pre-teen son Jason, Jeanette is ready to 'walk over corpses'. Blackmailing the ex-con driver Stevie Hernandez to be her henchman, she plans in detail to kidnap the daughter's actually devoted dance academy rival Melanie to secure a sole prime audition. But her mother Beth Hoyson gets wind of the scheme and fights back, as the police won't believe her, at least not in time, at their own risk.Written by
Low Stakes Hostage Caper Yielding Better Than Average Results
Let me start off by saying that I think this movie is seriously underrated, for a number of reasons, especially for a TV movie. My favorite thing about it is probably what so many people find difficult to invest in, the fact that in the end, it's such an overblown mess over something almost ridiculously trivial. The plot is pretty basic, almost threadbare even: obsessive control-freak mom wants her daughter to win a dance competition to gain an opportunity, so she has the main competition kidnapped. Sound stupid? it is, kind of. What's ridiculously trivial to you, could mean the entire world to someone with a very misplaced obsessive personality trait that borders on psychosis, and that's exactly the point! In the end you have such a maelstrom created over one woman's obsession that really amounts to nothing valid, where the ends in no way justify the means.
The Tonya Harding incident comes to mind, as the closest real life comparison I can think of, and this is a low stakes version of that. It's petty ridiculous stuff like this that pits neighbor against neighbor in the real world, and I see it all the time. Who needs a high stakes ransom movie over millions of dollars, when you have catty females risking everything so their daughters can win some stupid dance competition that may or may not result in anything remotely resembling a life changing opportunity? I like the nitty gritty. I like human frailty. I like human folly. This film is that, and the main protagonist Christina Cox captures all of that in an extremely impressive tour de force. "Are you off your freaking meds?!" ... "Yes I am, but that's not what this is about." Sums the film up perfectly. She is absolutely HATEABLE, and that's exactly what she's supposed to be: hardly a reason to slam the film itself.
The best feature of this film from a thematic point of view is its pacing combined with the subject matter. This is very much an action movie. Virtually all the dialogue is very tight, static, and plot driven. The screenplay is well-honed, and not bogged down with various plot holes, inconsistencies, or forced development. The whole kidnapping plot comes across as fairly plausible and realistic. All you're really asked to accept is an acting accomplice who's a dumb servile terrified groundskeeper, and willing to do anything he's told. Again, not that hard for me to accept, because I see those people everywhere. As it so happens, this film comes from the hand of a surprisingly seasoned director, and it shows, having taken part in the Robocop franchise, and various thrillers in his almost 50 year old resume. It turns out I've actually seen a couple of his really obscure Canadian films over the years. The guy simply understands pacing, and he has the technical skill to back it up.
This film might even be the director's swansong if not close to it. That's how much his output has slowed down over the years, but you know what? If that's the case, this isn't a bad one to go out on. You may not have deep character development, other than the main antagonist perhaps, but again, it was all for the sake of pacing, and it was the right choice, in my opinion. If they turned this subject into an overly drawn out courtroom drama, or an overwrought emotional character study about a young girl's dream to excel at dancing (eugh), then it would REALLY come across as a tawdry subject with misplaced emphasis, and completely miss the mark in capturing mundane folly driven to extremes. Again, some people may disagree, but that's what I loved about the film, which is not really something you see a lot of in movies, particularly movies with hostage taking, or home invasion themes.
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