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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dance Academy: The Comeback is a feature film that brings back the characters and stories that appeared in three seasons on the award-winning Australian television series Dance Academy. The series, a critical success with a passionate fan-base, centered on talented students at the National Academy of Ballet in Sydney. Starring the same dancer-actors, the movie picks up 18 months after the students have graduated. They're on their way to adulthood, trying to make it in the dance world writ large. Central is Tara Webster, a star at the Academy, who suffered what appeared to be a career-ending injury as the series ended. Expect a few mature themes -- dealing with a life-threatening illness, the ups and downs of romantic relationships, and handling a challenging career path -- but overall the movie is a wholesome, insightful look at those "next steps" that define all of us. A few kisses, references to nude photos online, and a fart constitute the only "iffy" material. An anticipated delight for fans of the series, the movie also works beautifully as a stand-alone film. The movie is appropriate (and recommended) for mature tweens and up.
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What's the story?
In DANCE ACADEMY: THE COMEBACK, Tara Webster (Xenia Goodwin) has amazed the pessimistic folks who thought she'd never dance again after a devastating fall. But her friends have never stopped believing in her. Chris (Jordan Rodrigues), especially, has been close by her side through it all. Each member of the close-knit group of friends who graduated with Tara from the National Academy of Ballet in Sydney is working his or her way through the challenging world of professional dance. Encouraged by the new director of Australia's premier ballet company, Tara auditions for a place in the Corps. When she doesn't make it, she opts to take a chance in New York, leaving Chris behind, and joining Kat (Alicia Banit), who has found success in a children's TV series, and Ollie (Keiyan Lonsdale), who's struggling to find his place in the dance world. Tara's journey takes her to the dance companies and studios in New York, then to Austin, Texas, where another beloved member of their clan, Ben (Thomas Lacey), is staying with his dancer-parents. Opportunities come and go, relationships become fragile, and Tara must navigate the adult world with a newfound sense of purpose.
Is it any good?
Beautiful dance sequences, engaging performances, and a familiar story told with heart and originality should win many new fans and please already-devoted followers of the Australian series. And Dance Academy: The Comeback manages to be relevant, contemporary, and wholesome at the same time. The production (costumes, set design, music, editing, and cinematography) is top-notch. New York as a setting has been used in countless films, but director Jeffrey Walker makes it as fresh and alive for his audience as it is for Tara when she visits for the very first time. There's some advantage to having watched these talented performers over the course of the series' three-season run, but newbies will catch up quickly. Enjoyable and moving, with positive messages and solid role models, the story takes us to some unexpected places as well. Highly recommended.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Dance Academy: The Comeback as a stand-alone movie. If you were already a fan of the television series Dance Academy, did this movie meet your expectations? Why or why not? If this was your first introduction to the characters and story, did this film motivate you to find and watch the Australian series?
Much like in sports and other singular human pursuits, not everyone can excel or has an opportunity to engage in the arts (music, dance, etc.). How do movies and stories about artists enrich our understanding of what human beings are capable of? How does exposure to the arts enhance our appreciation of the world and its inhabitants?
It's fair to say that it's not essential to be talented to participate in artistic endeavor. Think about something that you might enjoy. What, besides expressing yourself, might you gain from joining in?
- On DVD or streaming: March 2, 2018
- Cast: Xenia Goodwin, Jordan Rodrigues, Miranda Otto
- Director: Jeffrey Walker
- Studio: Studio Canal
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character strengths: Courage, Empathy, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: February 15, 2021
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