With a little more, or less, effort, Holiday Spin could have been a classic so-bad-it’s-good kind of film. As it stands though, it’s just bad. Everything about it screams 90s teen soap opera, which if you’re into that sort of thing, then this is the holiday romance is for you. If you’re not, however, watch something else, anything at all. Watch an after school special even. At least those are accompanied by important messages about eating disorders or bullying.
This movie, on the other hand, is full of drama. It’s like throwing a match into a box of firecrackers and waiting for something to go off. You can see the car crash that sets the story in motion as soon as the main character and his mom start serenading each other with Christmas carols instead of keeping their eyes on the road. Seventeen year old Blake (Garrett Clayton and not a Franco brother) survives the accident but has to live with his estranged father, Ruben (Ralph Macchio), and his fiancée, Emily (Karen Olivo), in Miami after his mother dies. He resents his dad for leaving the family to pursue his ballroom dancing dreams, which never panned out. Meanwhile, Blake has his own hopes of becoming a boxer, but those get put on hold when he meets Pia (Allie Bertram), a student at Ruben’s faltering dance studio. As they grow closer, he reconsiders his passion for dance, but he also knows this may encourage a better relationship with his father, which is the last thing he wants. Pia, for her part, has to deal with her romantic and dance partner, Rob (Benji Schwimmer), pairing up with saucy Tezza (Julia Harnett). Overnight, the rivalry tears the studio apart and damages their chances of winning a holiday dance competition.
I wouldn’t have minded if the movie featured more dance and less acting. There are several vibrant sequences of the typical dance film variety. Rob and Tezza try to show up Blake and Pia with a charged show-stopper only for the latter pair to burst out with an even more energetic number. The finale also delivers with performances set to Christmas tunes. These scenes feel apart from the rest of the movie since the dancers are highly competent in the dancing department.
It’s the acting that proves to be a challenge, though the situation isn’t helped by stupidly simple writing. The characters look and sound like high school tropes that never made it past the first draft. Rob, for example, has no redeeming qualities. He’s Biff the Bully, except in dancing form. I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes long enough to warm up to Pia, who is a sympathetic character but who is so predictable in the way she flirts with Blake and snaps at Rob and shakes her head in disappointment at herself. Unfortunately, leads Clayton and Macchio also suffer, and I almost turned off the movie when the two put on their Very Angry faces and started barking at each other. Clayton gets to dance it out, but Macchio, who IMDB tells me was on Dancing with the Stars, doesn’t show off his newly acquired skills. He does, however, look like the absent father who’s been drinking too much and is about to lose his studio.
Dir: Jonathan A. Rosenbaum
Writer: Albert Leon
Cast: Ralph Macchio, Garrett Clayton, Allie Bertram, Karen Olivo, Benji Schwimmer, Erika Elaniak, Julia Harnett
Time: 83 min
Country: United States