Bootmen

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Bootmen

In the midst of economic depression and massive layoffs, working-class blokes form a dance troupe and put on a big show, despite the blow to their masculinity. This premise may seem awfully familiar, but if you think Bootmen sounds exactly like The Full Monty or any of the bazillion British Isles quirkfests to arrive in its wake, you'd be dead wrong. Bootmen takes place in Australia, which is nowhere near the British Isles. Moreover, it's reportedly inspired by director and choreographer Dein Perry's own story, which could never be twisted into pandering, feel-good schmaltz just to cash in on a lucrative trend. Adam Garcia (Coyote Ugly) plays his alter-ego, a gifted tap dancer whose dreams of going professional are hampered by his improvisational style and his beer-swilling father (Richard Carter), who favors brother Sam Worthington's more sensible dreams of owning a big rig. The three labor for steady wages at a Newcastle steel mill, but Garcia's irrepressible need to dance leads him to defy his father and assemble a troupe of local talents for a benefit show. Screenwriter Steve Worland stirs the pot with an obligatory love interest (Sophie Lee) and a subplot involving Worthington's dangerous side business of stripping stolen cars for parts, but both are so haphazardly developed, it's almost insulting. At the expense of every human relationship on screen, Perry's heart is clearly and solely committed to the dance sequences, which mock tap tradition by choreographing the numbers in industrial settings with hard-rock accompaniment. To his credit, dancing takes up a much larger section of Bootmen than it does in the overrated Billy Elliot, but the staging isn't nearly as imaginative and the tap seems oddly divorced from the melodrama. By now, the Full Monty formula has been regurgitated so many times that no one could possibly be surprised by it. Which begs the question: What's left for the audience to do when they know exactly where a movie is going to wind up within the first five minutes? More to the point, how much longer until the Monty corpse is finally laid to rest?