Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing And Charm School

A baker (Robert Carlyle) mourning the death of his wife happens upon a serious freeway accident, and as he and the injured man (John Goodman) wait for a rescue team and ride together in the ambulance, the latter relates (in awkward flashbacks) his attachment to a fellow student at the title school 40 years earlier and the much-delayed appointment he was hoping to keep with her. Writer-director Randall Miller adapted this 2005 feature from a half-hour short he made in 1990; I haven’t seen the original, but this expanded version registers as an obscure allegory, with unconvincing period detail and distracting elements like Carlyle’s unexplained Scottish accent. This has its moments, but most of these are engulfed by the overall murk. The largely squandered cast includes Marisa Tomei, Mary Steenburgen, Ernie Hudson, David Paymer, and an unbilled Danny DeVito. PG-13, 103 min. (JR)

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