Like Fox Searchlight's current feel-good item "Young@Heart," producer-director Dori Berinstein's joyous docu "Gotta Dance" centers on a group of lively older people doing something atypical to great acclaim.
In 2007, the New Jersey Nets recruited 12 women and one man, ranging in ages from 60-83, for a new halftime attraction: senior hip-hop dance team the NETsationals. Like Fox Searchlight’s current feel-good item “Young@Heart,” producer-director Dori Berinstein’s joyous docu “Gotta Dance” centers on a group of lively older people doing something atypical to great acclaim. Heartwarming and full of self-deprecating humor, albeit somewhat over-long and repetitive, pic could capitalize on the media frenzy already surrounding the dancers to score some niche theatrical of its own, with greater returns in ancillary.
Helmer follows the group from auditions through grueling rehearsals to center-court stardom, incorporating individual interviews with dancers and trainers as well as bonding time at dinners and outings. Although some members are more charismatic than others, all their stories are inspiring and they share a love of dance (though most confess they are not partial to hip-hop).
Two of the oldest recruits have granddaughters on the Nets’ professional dance team, and the interaction between the highly athletic younger women and their less flexible elders offers some particularly poignant moments, as does the final half-time show incorporating a cute faceoff with a kids’ dancing troupe.
Pic reaches an early climax after the dancers’ first performance, when, in spite of nerves and self-doubt regarding their ability to remember everything and put on a good show, they get a wild reception from the Meadowlands crowd. Soon they’re the toast of every morning show and on the cover of every sports page. Further challenges (i.e., can they learn a new, more difficult routine?) don’t sustain the same interest, and Berinstein includes a lot of what feels like padding (crowds arriving at the arena, backstage preparation).
Beginning and ending credit sequences, showing each dancer shimmying against a white background, are standouts in a serviceable tech package. Title cards throughout divide the pic into chapters. At screening caught, vid projection showed a lot of lines.