Leading Ladies

by Christian Cintron

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday August 18, 2011

Leading Ladies

"Leading Ladies" is a sweet coming out story that explores the world of competitive dance. Given the current trends of musicals and ballroom dancing, this film couldn't have come at a better time. There are lots of hilarious laugh out loud moments and tap your feet dance numbers that make the movie super approachable to all audiences.

Toni Campari (Laurel Vail) is the tomboy workhorse of her family. She spends all of her time supporting her eccentric mother, Sheri (Melanie LaPatin) and her dancer sister, Tasi (Shannon Lea Smith). Her only ally in her crazy world is her sister's gay dance partner Cedric, played by "So You Think You Can Dance" finalist Benji Schwimmer. When she treats herself to a night out she meets Mona (Nicole Dionne), who changes her whole world. Tasi becomes pregnant, and all hell breaks loose when Toni decides to join the family business.

Vail is endearing as a girl just trying to find her voice in a family of loud eccentrics. She is able to capture the suppressed spirit of a dancer and make you root for Toni. LaPatin's Sheri is part drag queen part soap opera vixen. Her over-the-top portrayal steals every scene she is in. Schwimmer also shines as the lovable best friend who not only offers funny quips, but also dances his way through the film.

The pacing of the film can be a little grating at times, given the length of some of the music numbers and montages. However, the blend of large-scaled choreographed dance numbers, show-stopping numbers, and even an original song or two will keep you thoroughly entertained.

It's rare for a film to be so approachable to all audiences. The film may focus on a lesbian relationship but the story at its heart is about family. Where do you fit in a family of loud and crazy eccentrics? Toni's mother and sister are such big personalities that they stifle her; it's no wonder she can't come out of the closet.

The movie also offers a sweet metaphor for what meeting your first love can be like. Toni had no idea she was even into women but when she meets Mona they engage in an elaborate dance number that would change anyone forever.

"Leading Ladies" is sweet, smart and funny. Like a great date the film will keep you entertained and full of fuzzy feelings. Part family melodrama and part first love story, it transcends the "coming out" genre by offering an entertaining film with a main character that just so happens to be coming out. It's a definite must see for fans of dance, musicals and lady love.

Christian Cintron is a writer, actor and stand up comedian. He attended Vassar College and has worked in marketing and social media. For more check out YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/CintronicComedy and www.obscureathon.com