Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble
Starring: Vanessa L. Williams, Chayanne, J.E. Freeman, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Plowright / Director: Randa Haines / Released by: Sony Pictures
Rafael Sinclair (Chayanne), the native-born Cuban from Santiago, finally gets to travel to the United States to meet his father, John Burnett (Kris Kristofferson). John, who is unaware that he even has a son, invited Rafael to come and live with him, after he heard that his former lover (and mother of Rafael) had passed away. Upon meeting Rafael, John gives Rafael a place to stay and a job as a janitor in his Houston, Texas dance studio. It is here that he meets the lovely and talented Ruby Sinclair (Vanessa L. Williams), a cha-cha instructor.
Raphael is smitten by her dancing ability; and mesmerized by her techniques, he asks how she can dance without music. To Raphael, every Latin dancer has to feel the music and let it dictate the movements that they make. It is only after they become enraptured by the music that the Latin dancer can truly begin to dance. Yet, to Ruby, a professional dancer who understands the importance of a strict choreographed routine, the value of dancing without music is immeasurable. To her, this type of repetitive dancing helps to perfect the form and structure of the dance. She teaches him technique and he teaches her to respond to her inner self and let the feelings come forth when dancing. Ultimately, they win a trophy and a world title at the World Latin Dancing Competition, held in Las Vegas.
“Dance With Me” is a delightful movie. While there are no surprises and the plot is entirely predictable, I left the theater smiling. When Bea Johnson (Joan Plowright, the nanny in “101 Dalmatians”) surprised the audience (at the world competition) by asking Raphael to dance with her, I laughed. When they finished, I wanted to clap. It is a heart-warming scene that I will not soon forget. She reminded us all that you are never too old to have fun!
“Dance With Me” is somewhat provocative and slightly erotic. There is no nudity, but the clothing at times is very revealing. There is one scene where Ruby and Raphael are seen kissing passionately, but they stop before it goes too far. They even acknowledge that it is the wrong thing to do.
This romantic movie does leave you feeling good. I watched the audience and was pleased to see that many remained in their seats throughout the closing titles. They just wanted to let it all sink in, listen to the music and enjoy the entire experience.