Review: ‘Stepping Out’

It's Liza-as-you-love-her in Stepping Out, a modest heartwarmer about a bunch of suburban left-feeters getting it together for a charity dance spot. Fragile ensemble item often creaks under the Minnelli glitz, but results are likeable enough.

It’s Liza-as-you-love-her in Stepping Out, a modest heartwarmer about a bunch of suburban left-feeters getting it together for a charity dance spot. Fragile ensemble item often creaks under the Minnelli glitz, but results are likeable enough.

Adapted by Richard Harris from his 1984 award-winning play, action is switched from a London church hall to a Buffalo, NY, equivalent. Minnelli is a former pro hoofer who’s now teaching amateur dance classes on the side.

Her current group includes a snooty Brit with a cleanliness fixation (Julie Walters), a shy plain Jane with a bossy husband (Sheila McCarthy), a pretty, disillusioned young nurse (Jane Krakowski) and a working-class pants-chaser (Robyn Stevan).

Minnelli’s problems start when her grumpy accompanist (Shelley Winters) threatens to walk out. She’s then invited to put together an amateur tap routine for a charity show.

Minnelli’s lost none of her pizzazz. Looking as fresh-faced and gamine as ever, and in good voice and shape, she provides the pic’s emotional highs in a solo dance spot and the finale’s John Kander-Fred Ebb title song, but as an actress, she’s one-note perky. Technically, the Toronto-lensed pic is solid.

Stepping Out

Production

Paramount. Director Lewis Gilbert; Producer Lewis Gilbert; Screenplay Richard Harris; Camera Alan Hume; Editor Humphrey Dixon; Music Peter Matz; Art Director Peter Mullins

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1991. Running time: 106 MIN.

With

Liza Minnelli Shelley Winters Bill Irwin Ellen Greene Julie Walters Sheila McCarthy
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