Since the early days of movie-making one of the most crowd-pleasing film genres is the dance movie. Whether it be old school Gene Kelley or Fred Astaire or more modern takes like the Step-Up movies, Footloose, Dirty Dancing, Center Stage and more. These movies usually have a similar structure and end with the triumphant last dance performance or competition. Maybe it is because I’m an absolutely atrocious dancer but these films almost always work for me. There’s just something satisfying about seeing someone learn a new skill and usually they involve some level of romance, which of course I love.
This year we have a charming new entry in the dance genre entitled Tango Shalom. It is a family affair directed by Gabriel Bologna (of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame) and written (and co-starring) his father Joseph Bologna in his final role and his Mother Renee Taylor of The Nanny fame.
It tells the story of a Hasidic Jewish man named Moishe who is struggling to pay his rent pay for his daughter’s wedding. One day he stumbles upon a local dance studio and meets instructor Viviana (played by Dancing with the Stars pro Karina Smirnoff). Through various convoluted turn-of-events they end up dancing in a big prize competition and they both grow and change from the experience.
Tango Shalom reminded me a lot of the great 1996 Japanese film Shall We Dance (not the less good American remake). In that film a tired Japanese businessman sees a woman dancing and decides to take lessons from her. Like Moshe that lead is married and committed to his marriage, so this is not that kind of rom-com. No cheating is involved. In fact, in this case there is a lot of effort put into them keeping the tradition of social distancing for religious reasons. Both stories are about the connection, self-confidence and joy that comes from breaking the day-to-day grind of normal life- the happiness that comes from learning something new and having fun with a project.
I do think Tango Shalom could use some editing and not all the comedic bits work but overall it is a sweet heart-warming story with a message of faith, acceptance and tolerance. I enjoyed it and think you will too.
Tango Shalom is available to rent from all the major streamers. What’s your favorite dance themed movie?
7 out of 10
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