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BOOTMEN (director/writer: Dein Perry; screenwriter: Steve Worland/Hilary Linstead/based on a story by Mr. Perry; cinematographer: Steve Mason; editor: Jane Moran; music: Cezary Skubiszewski; cast: Adam Garcia (Sean Okden), Sophie Lee (Linda), Sam Worthington (Mitchell Okden), William Zappa (Walter), Richard Carter (Gary Okden), Susie Porter (Sara), Anthony Hayes (Huey); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Hilary Linstead; Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2000-Australia)
“Think Billy Elliot, Flashdance and The Full Monty, and then say ugh!”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Think Billy Elliot, Flashdance and The Full Monty, and then say ugh! This is an all too familiar clichéd story of an artistic son bucking his hardnosed macho working-class father to pursue a career as a tap dancer instead of at the steel-mill. Also, most of the other films were mucho better–but even they weren’t good. This film is not only bad because it rips off the other films without adding anything fresh, but is handicapped by a weak script, dull acting, a dumb storyline, an incredibly weak conclusion and clunky dialogue. Not even the many dance numbers were any good. If the film won’t bore you to death, then you might trip on the bubblegum left on the dance floor by the simpleminded plot. In any case, this film should do nothing for your mental health, pursuit of culture or endear you to all the roughnecks out there ready to call any male who becomes a dancer a sissy.

The film is taken from its director Dein Perry’s autobiography, during the time he was a laborer aspiring to be a dancer. This is Perry’s film debut; he’s the internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer who made it big with the stage show Tap Dogs. My advise: don’t give up the day gig!

The time frame is during an economic crisis in the depressed Australian town of Newcastle and motorcycle riding rebel Sean Okden (Adam Garcia), who works in the same steel-mill with his glum widowed father Gary (Richard Carter), enjoys tap dancing and does not seek the same job security his dad does. It’s never made clear, aside from the job security issue, why the bug-eyed dad wants sonny boy to share his ‘walking dead’ life experience of watching rugby on TV and beer-guzzling and not pursue his dancing dreams. Sean resists dad’s bad advice and with the help of his crippled dancing teacher Walter Zappa, another clichéd character in a film overloaded with clichéd characters, he forms a dance troupe to perform at a benefit show and gets an out of town dance gig. Humorless doltish dad gets all bent out of shape when Sean quits his deadend job and heads for the bright lights of Sydney to pursue his lifelong goal of dancing, only to return home after being fired from the show over jealousy. But Sean is more determined than ever to be a dancing success and with his own dance troupe, called the Bootmen–they use an industrial strength theme and wear motorcycle boots and click their heels loudly with their metal taps to the beat of heavy metal music–ugh!

Uninteresting banal side stories develop such as betrayal over Sean’s bimbo hairdresser girlfriend Linda (Sophie Lee), who when he fails to call dumps him for his wise guy steel-mill brother Mitchell (Sam Worthington). The brother’s way out of the mill is to steal cars to sell their parts to buy a truck, with ill-intentioned criminals pursuing him. There are mindless fist fights, an unwanted pregnancy, some gay bashing, further anxiety caused by word that the steel-mill will close, mucho macho antics and it all leads to a predictable but unbelievable tragedy at the conclusion. Pretty boy Garcia might appeal to teenage girls and his dancing might be passable, but his bland acting should only appeal to clams.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”