A hunky high school football star with a secret passion for ballet twirls his way to personal triumph and love in "Kick," an unapologetically cliched romantic drama that borrows from "Strictly Ballroom," "Flashdance" and numerous other dance-themed pics. While the level of performance is on a par with the adolescent soaps that populate Australian TV screens, the slick feature is fast and entertaining enough to score plenty of ancillary action, with teenage girls likely to constitute its prime audience. Beyond has scheduled Oz release during August school vacation.

A hunky high school football star with a secret passion for ballet twirls his way to personal triumph and love in “Kick,” an unapologetically cliched romantic drama that borrows from “Strictly Ballroom,” “Flashdance” and numerous other dance-themed pics. While the level of performance is on a par with the adolescent soaps that populate Australian TV screens, the slick feature is fast and entertaining enough to score plenty of ancillary action, with teenage girls likely to constitute its prime audience. Beyond has scheduled Oz release during August school vacation.

Aboriginal dance theater star Russell Page plays Matt Grant, a working-class kid accepted into an exclusive private boys’ school, where he beats the odds to achieve popularity through his dazzling performances on the rugby field. His 11 years of ballet as a child have left him with a burning need to dance, which he satisfies, alone after hours, in the fanciful setting of the amusement park where his father (George Spartels) works.

While preparing for graduation exams, the rugby final and the crucial presentation of his university scholarship application, Matt gets wind of a local dance company holding auditions for “Romeo andJuliet.” Despite the apprehension of his best friend, Tom (Martin Henderson), that word will get around and destroy his credibility at school, Matt tries out for hotshot choreographer David Knight (Paul Mercurio, who also filled that role offscreen) and is cast in the lead. While Tom covers for him at school, Matt adds the intensive rehearsals to his impossible load of commitments, creating problems with Knight, his teachers, his pampered, bratty girlfriend, Tamara (Radha Mitchell), and his ballet partner, Claire (Rebecca Yates).

Just about every element in the good-natured, squeaky-clean tale has been seen before, but it pays the right emotional dividends and remains engaging as friction turns to attraction and romance slowly blooms between Matt and Claire. The closing act, when Matt’s teammates, teachers and Tamara all converge on the Sydney Opera House for the performance, has the enjoyably hokey feel of an implausible musical finale. Leads are attractive and likable, and first-time feature director Lynda Heys wisely doesn’t skimp on the dance sequences.

Kick

(ROMANTIC DRAMA -- AUSTRALIAN)

Production

A Beyond Films release (in Australia) of an Australian Film Finance Corp. presentation of a Carmelina Pictures/Blackwood Films production in association with Premium Movie Partnership. (International sales: Beyond Films, Sydney.) Produced by Mariel Beros, Sharon Kruger, Ross Matthews. Directed by Lynda Heys. Screenplay, Stuart Beattie. Camera (color), Martin McGrath; editor, John Scott; music, Nerida Tyson-Chew; production designer, Luigi Pittorino; art director, Catherine Mansill; costume designer, Annie Marshall; sound (Dolby), Guntis Sics; sound designer, Wayne Pashley; choreographer, Paul Mercurio; assistant director, Adrian Pickersgill; casting, Faith Martin. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 19, 1999. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Matt Grant ..... Russell Page Claire Andrews ..... Rebecca Yates Tom Bradshaw ..... Martin Henderson Tamara Spencer ..... Radha Mitchell David Knight ..... Paul Mercurio Jack Grant ..... George Spartels Mr. Power ..... Phillip Holder Dr. Derrick ..... Peter Gwynne
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