9 Reasons 'Strictly Ballroom' Is One of the Most Underrated Dance Movies of All Time

There are a lot of great dance movies out there (and a lot of not-so-great ones, as well) but there's one movie that I always think should be higher up on best-of lists: Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom. The 1992 romantic comedy often flies under the radar, but there are a lot of reasons it deserves more love, both as a romantic comedy, and as a dance flick.

The movie stars Paul Mercurio as the dreamy star dancer Scott Hastings and Tara Morice as Fran, the ugly duckling beginner with no partner. The two form an unlikely partnership that, you guessed it, blossoms into a romance. There's also a lot of dance drama, with a ton of scenes on the ballroom floor, as well as some romantic rooftop dancing and late-night paso doble.

Luhrmann originally created Strictly Ballroom as a play, and it definitely retains a theatrical quality. And, luckily, it's back on stage. In 2014, Strictly Ballroom premiered as a musical in Australia. There's no word yet whether the show will hit the US, but my fingers are crossed. In the meantime, here are nine reasons why Strictly Ballroom is one of the greatest, and most tragically overlooked, dance movies of all time.

1. It's directed by Baz Luhrmann.


Who better to depict the sequins and drama of ballroom dance than Baz Luhrmann? Strictly Ballroom was Luhrmann's directorial debut, and it's a bit more understated than later films like Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby. But it's evident even in this film that Luhrmann knows how to make a scene sparkle, and what's a dance movie without sequins?

2. It's informed.

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Luhrmann competed in ballroom dancing, so he's not only knowledgable about dance, but he seems very familiar with the world's many quirks. Those familiar with any kind of competitive dance will be able to recognize the melodrama.

3. It's hilarious.

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The mockumentary format of much of the film brings the ridiculousness of the dance world into sharp relief.

4. It's Australian.

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This means that the accents are great. Ballroom dancing is also big in Australia, so it provides a satisfying glimpse of a fascinating subculture.

5. The transformation is genuine.


Many dance films center around a character becoming more empowered through dance. But Jennifer Grey is beautiful from the beginning to the end of Dirty Dancing. The character of Fran starts out looking like she'll be the comic relief before she turns into the romantic lead. The film does a great job showing how she becomes more confident through the dance steps and support of her family and beau.

6. It makes me want to dance.


This movie makes dancing look like so much fun, and what's the purpose of a dance movie if not to get us on our feet?

7. It has a great soundtrack.


The soundtrack makes great use of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time," but my personal favorite is the scene with Doris Day's "Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps."

8. It's a love story.


Scott and Fran's romance is super fun to watch, as dance scenes make any love story better.

9. It has a killer final number.


A romantic, public final dance scene is key in any good dance movie.

Image: M&A Productions, Giphy (4)