Monday, February 23, 2015

Playing Taps

Continuing to check out music-inspired movies, we queued up Tap (1989), Gregory Hines tapdance vehicle. This is the movie that brought about the tap-dance revival of the 90s. Or, wait, that never happened, did it?

Hines plays a released convict who moves into a flophouse across from a crummy dance studio. It turns out that it was his father's place, now being run by a bunch of elderly hoofers, including Sammy Davis, Jr. and Sandman Sims, plus sweet Suzanne Douglas and her son Savion Glover.

It seems that Hines was a dancer too, but found he could make more money as a cat burglar. Now he has to choose between his mobbed up buddies and his family of washed up dancers. But that part is pretty boring.

The part that isn't boring is the tap dancing that they manage to squeeze in. We get a cutting contest with Davis, Sandman, Bunny Briggs, Harold Nicholas (of the Nicholas Brothers), and many more, including Hines. Hines does a little tap improv based on city sounds, and little Savion shows a bunch of kids what it's all about.

It ends up with the invention of amped, midi tapshoes, which will bring tap into the world of rock'n'roll. It is horrible, partly because of 1980s bad new wave, partly because it's a fine idea, but only if well executed - this is clunky and uninspired.

Actually, there was a bit of a tap revival in the 90s, Bring da Noise, Bring da Funk, for example. But I'd say it came about in spite of, not because of Taps. But when it looks back to the olden days of tap, it really shines.

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