DVD Review: Odd Release of ‘Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition’

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CHICAGO – A few weeks ago, we acclaimed the beauty of the Blu-ray releases of Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” and “Romeo + Juliet.” Oh what a difference a studio can make. While Fox treated those Luhrmann films with HD respect, Disney has decided to release his first film, the great “Strictly Ballroom” in a lackluster standard DVD special edition that would have been great in 2006 but times have changed.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.0/5.0

The most terrifying thing about the “Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition” may not be that it’s lackluster in comparison to the great Blu-rays of “Moulin Rouge!” and “Romeo + Juliet” but that it appears to not be a tie-in to those releases but something far more terrifying. The back of the DVD case says “The Film That Started the Dancing With the Stars Phenomenon!” Really?!?! A 1992 Australian film that made $12 million inspired “Dancing With the Stars”?!?! What’s next? A “Lord of the Flies: Special Edition” that claims to have inspired “Survivor”? A “1984: Special Edition” that started the “Big Brother” phenemenon? It’s a ridiculously-tenuous connection.

Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition was released on DVD on November 23rd, 2010
Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition was released on DVD on November 23rd, 2010
Photo credit: Fox

And the sad part is that “Strictly Ballroom” is a great movie. It deserved a better fate than an old-ray release trying to piggyback on the popularity of a trashy reality show. And it would be great if more people found this lovely romantic comedy for whatever reason. To be fair, Disney does include a new and exclusive documentary featuring Luhrmann himself, so it’s not like it’s completely bare-bones.

Paul Mercurio (one of those actors I always thought would be a bigger star) plays Scott Hastings, a famous ballroom dancer who finds that love can be an artist’s greatest inspiration. “Strictly Ballroom” is total fun on its own terms but it’s also fascinating in terms of how much it predicted future work of Luhrmann. Scott falls for a girl from the other side of the tracks in terms of dancer popularity not unlike “Romeo + Juliet” and the film comes most alive in the dance numbers, not unlike “Moulin Rouge!”

“Strictly Ballroom” serves as a reminder that Luhrmann is one of our most passionate directors. If only he made films more often. Maybe by the time he makes another one, Disney will release this one on Blu-ray. Maybe if there’s another reality show with which to tie it in.

Special Features:
o Strictly Ballroom: From Stage to Screen
o Deleted Scene
o Design Gallery With Narration
o Samba To Slow Fox Dance Featurette
o Audio Commentary

“Strictly Ballroom” stars Paul Mercurio, Tara Morice, Bill Hunter, Pat Thomson, and Gia Carides. It was written by Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce and directed by Luhrmann. It is rated PG and runs 94 minutes. It was released on DVD on November 23rd, 2010.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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