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Bootmen

Rated R, 93 min. Directed by Dein Taylor. Starring Richard Carter, Sam Worthington, Sophie Lee, Adam Garcia.

REVIEWED By Russell Smith, Fri., Dec. 15, 2000

“They're not gay.” / “Pardon?” / “That's what you're thinkin', innit? They're poofs, nancy boys, gearboxes, bum-jumpers …” / “Who the hell are you talking about?” / “The blokes in the movie you're about to review. The one based on my world-famous Australian dance show, Tap Dogs.” / “Wow! So you're Dein Taylor. Hey man, I've heard some really great things about your company.” / “… and contrary to what you obviously think, every man-jack in my company is a 110%, pub-brawlin', Foster's-chuggin', Aussie Rules football-playin' heterosexual `e-man who makes your NASCAR Winston Cup racers look like Audrey `epburn by comparison.” / “Uh, fine. Whatever you say, pal.” / “Because, just look at me show: all-male tap-dancers dressed up as ultra-butch steelworkers. Sets designed all industrial-like with big steel girders, rotatin' iron shafts, flatbed trucks, and screamin' power tools. Arse-kickin' `eavy metal scores. Sparks flyin' everywhere. An' all performed by `airy, mustachioed, boot-clad geezers in skin-tight muscle shirts all drippin' with sweat. What poofter could possibly find anything to like about -- hey, what `re you laughin' about? / “Nothing. Do continue.” / “Anyways, the movie's not just dancin'. It's also got a bit of the old romance for the ladies, featurin' a sensitive but straight-up masculine young machinist, name o' Sean (Garcia), who dreams of bein' a world-class tap dancer. But his old man, y'see don't understand. Wants the lad to stay on at the factory 'cause the money's steady, innit? Though little does 'e realize the mill's actually about to be shut down. I'm nickin' the basic Full Monty routine, wot? -- but with some of the old Billy Elliot/Shall We Dance? nontraditional male identity-quest tension chucked into the kettle. So meanwhile, both Sean and his brother (Worthington) are in love with the same Olivia Newton John-lookalike tart (Lee), an' the steelmen are all out of work, so now Sean's got to choose between family ties, `is artistic dreams and loyalty to `is mates down at the mill. Oh yeah, an' the tart's got a dumplin' on now, thanks to a drunken sexual encounter with …” / “I know. I just saw the movie, remember? Look, Mr. Taylor, the single, solitary beef I have with your film is that, as great as the dancing is, 90% of it is concentrated in the final 15 minutes. And to get there, you have to suffer through one of the most punishingly inane, lint-headed romantic yarns since Dirty Dancing. As far as the gay thing goes, I don't give a good goddamn either way -- though I've got to say that, viewed as unintentional satire of hetero overcompensation, this movie is an absolute laugh riot. If it doesn't get booked as a comedy showcase in next year's Austin Gay & Lesbian Film Festival somebody's asleep at the switch.” / “Bloody hell! You critics sure know how to take the piss right out of a geezer.” / “No, wait -- I'm not finished. Even as insultingly half-assed as most of your film is, it's also one of those classic situations in which, as the cliché has it, one fantastic scene truly is `worth the price of admission.` Dramatically speaking, Bootmen -- you should pardon the expression -- blows. But with its brief but memorable display of delightfully original dance cinema performed by exuberant, gifted, athletic …” / “Ahem!” / “… and unimpeachingly heterosexual performers, it delivers commendable entertainment value for all of us with a little bit of Fred and Ginger (and the Village People) in our hearts.”
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