Smalltown boy is made to take up boxing by his dad and ends up staying late to take part in ballet lessons instead. And that about sums it up. Oh yeah, there's a miner's strike, so dad's poor. Dad thinks dancing's for queeahs, like. But Billy, he just wants to pirhouette. And, I'll be buggered, I spelled that correct first time!Inasmuch as the subject matter will half the potential audience (do guys go to ballet movies in large numbers?), and the small town England setting will halve the remainder (American's can't dig that green stuff), those brave souls left will have a great, if eventually forgettable, time with Billy Elliot.
If you cut away the dance, what you're left with is a great little family drama, bustling with big acting, tons of emotion and the kind of ending that, while a little bit sugar-on-top, does get the pulse racing and toes tapping. Where it fails is in it's predictability. We all know dad will find out eventually that Billy is wearing a tutu and that the little hamlet they live in will have a tough time accepting the young poof Billy and his young poof mate. And of course, Billy will fight his dad's insensitivity and survive the odd beating to dance on regardless.
But despite the obvious nature of the story, Billy Elliot has much to like. Julie Walters as Billy's dance teacher isn't really stretched, and the newbie cast that surround her give things a good shake a best they can. Some of the characterisations are almost surreal, particularly Walters' screen daughter, who comes over all unsettlingly funny, like.All in all, it goes right down the middle of respectability and tosh. I'd be hard pressed watching it again as there wasn't many surprises to begin with, but if you like your entertainment on the fluffy side, Billy Elliot will taste great without spoiling your appetite.