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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.95%
Average: 10.69%
Pretty Bad: 7.63%
Total Crap: 3.82%

9 reviews, 77 user ratings

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Billy Elliot
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by Collin Souter

"A movie that takes chances, entertains and soars"
5 stars

Billy Elliot has everything a true crowd-pleaser should have. It has an incredibly likable and charismatic protagonist, a sympathetic antagonist, great suspense, moments of high hilarity, and an adventurous spirit that I found positively dazzling. If this movie doesn’t (I hate saying this) warm your heart, make you laugh, or leave you feeling at all exhilarated by the time the credits roll, I recommend a job for you in the coalmines.

Billy Elliot takes place in mid-80’s England during a labor strike. The movie tells the story of (who else?) Billy Elliot and his family, consisting of his father, Jacky (Gary Lewis), his teenage brother, Tony (Jamie Draven), and their grandmother. Billy’s father and brother have been out of work as a result of the strike, but the story gets into that a little later. Billy, an 11-year-old schoolboy, goes to his boxing lessons every day, but feels compelled to go to the other side of the gym where the girls take ballet classes.

Pretty soon, Billy trades his boxing gloves for dancing shoes and tries to be inconspicuous about his newfound passion. He hides his ballet shoes under his bed, steals a how-to book about ballet dancing from the library, and practices his dance moves in the bathroom. His father and brother learn of his interests and, of course, tell him, “No more!” Billy’s instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters), encourages Billy and keeps his dream of becoming a dancer alive by giving him private lessons and setting him up for auditions behind his father’s back.

Make no mistake. This movie does not consist of boring ballet dance sequences. On the contrary, these dance scenes have as much excitement and innovation as anything you have seen in Riverdance. Part of what makes them so exciting has to do with the fact that they come at crucial moments in Billy’s story. They serve as an emotional release when he feels the walls closing in. For some, it will bring to mind Kevin Bacon (or, rather, his stunt double) in Footloose, except here, it works, and we don’t laugh as a result.

That reminds me, the young actor here, Jamie Bell, could very well upstage Haley Joel Osment as a young Oscar hopeful. I see no reason why this boy should not be nominated alongside the big heavyweights (Michael Douglas, Tom Hanks, Robert DeNiro). He handles each dramatic scene with the same precision and grace as he does with his dance scenes. He may well be the best child actor I’ve seen since Eamonn Owens in the underrated The Butcher Boy.

I also have to commend the movie on its daring sub-plot involving Billy’s sexually confused best friend, Michael (Stuart Wells). At first, the film plays it for laughs when Billy comes to Michael’s house and finds Michael dressing up in his mother’s clothes. As the film progresses, we see a genuine love grow between Billy and Michael, which does not result in anything uncomfortable, mean-spirited or forbidden, just a kind of un-spoken pact of mutual love and understanding between them.

At one point in the film, I thought I knew where the story would go. Billy and Michael go to the gym late one night. Billy teaches Michael some dance steps. One of Billy’s father’s friend’s witnesses this and brings Billy’s father over to watch. I thought, “Oh, no. Don’t tell me we’re going into a homophobia sub-plot. This is going to get violent and unpleasant, isn’t it?” Thankfully, the writers turned the other way and took the story to another level, while keeping it grounded in its central story and central characters. This movie has to do with a father and son, nothing more, nothing less.

Like Almost Famous, Billy Elliot earns every one of its sentiments and emotions without getting overly manipulative or preachy (like, say Pay It Forward). You may end up seeing it more than once, bringing friends along who normally would have gone to see Bagger Vance or Meet The Parents for the 3rd time. Unfortunately, many people won’t see it. I find it frustrating when I tell someone about a movie and they ask, “Who’s in it?”
“Well, nobody, but it’s really great.”
“Uh-huh. You know, I really want to see that new Matt Damon movie.”
“Don’t. It’s terrible.”
“Yeah, but I like him.”

People, please. Take a chance on Billy Elliot. You won’t be disappointed. No actors got paid $20 million to sign on. You get some good action scenes involving riots. You get moments of high comedy every bit as funny as anything in Meet The Parents. You may feel the lump in your throat at the end of the film that Pay It Forward tried desperately to give you (Billy does not get stabbed, just so you know.) And you may actually cheer at all the film’s victories. Name the last movie that gave you all of that.

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originally posted: 02/18/01 19:32:39
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User Comments

2/05/09 Anonymous. the most charming movie i've ever seen, i loved it :] 5 stars
9/04/08 Rachel Hard to understand the heavy accents sometimes, but makes anyone want to get up and dance. 5 stars
6/01/08 David Cohen Cliched tripe without a single likeable character 2 stars
8/14/07 Hello Stranger predictable but awwwwww so great to watch 4 stars
1/26/07 Shanaynay Great characters and very heartwarming and inspirational 5 stars
1/20/07 Davo Brilliant flim, Jamie Bell Superb Actor, can watch it time and time again 5 stars
1/01/07 A The best thing ever. You should also see the musical. AMAZING!!! 5 stars
9/17/06 james fabulous and now that i'm starring in the new musical as billy, it is an inspiration. 5 stars
7/23/06 Daveman A resident of County Durham, I can tesify we do NOT talk like that and we are NOT that poor 2 stars
4/02/06 Riki Who is that kid?! 5 stars
8/18/05 boogy man do you want to see my fanny? hahahaha i have to do it 4 yr 10 baa boooring 1 stars
7/23/05 Captain Craig A WOW..onderful film. Left me wanting more! 5 stars
7/14/05 Rabbi Ledinski I have to study this stupid movie for year 12, it used to be cool, but i'm bored of it. 1 stars
7/06/05 muhammad ehsan it is superbly boring 1 stars
6/03/05 anon amazing film-really good! 5 stars
5/16/05 Litty I loved it but not as much as I love Mcleods Daughters 4 stars
5/10/05 Samantha I think it was pretty, daun good 5 stars
4/20/05 Georgina Definately has entered my list of favourites 5 stars
2/22/05 Captain Craig A really wonder story, well done and quite original 5 stars
1/29/05 movie boi :) gr8 drama :( 5 stars
10/29/04 Elaine Pang Good enough to make my friend cry. bad enough to make another sleep. Could be done better. 1 stars
10/28/04 Kristen I dug it !!! 5 stars
9/27/04 NJ Cup Winner 95-00-03 The gold standard for movies about aspiring dancers living in squalor 5 stars
4/02/04 Paola Great Film Highly Recomended 5 stars
2/14/04 Jose O. Isidro Billy Elliot will always be my number one movie. 5 stars
2/11/04 teri reilly fantastic 5 stars
2/02/04 john bale Simple heartwarming stories sometimes make great cinema, this is one such. 5 stars
9/14/03 J I have seen this movie hundreds of times and it is still the best movie I have ever seen. 5 stars
5/28/03 Jessica I LOVE BILLY ELLIOT! 5 stars
4/30/03 rik i dont trust any critic who doesnt think this is great, because it is! 5 stars
3/06/03 Dina Smith I saw this in school and I tought it was wonderful 4 stars
11/16/02 Big Ted Great film. Very underrated work from Gary Lewis. 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Wonderful film...just wish it had subtitles. 5 stars
10/02/01 alf awful tawdry take on english northern life and why were t rex featured in 1984? 2 stars
9/10/01 Malin Öhlén I love the scen when Michael kisses Billy! It´s so sweet! And Stuart Wells is very cute!!!! 5 stars
9/06/01 Bada Bing Crosby I can't imagine the soul of the person who thinks this is crap 5 stars
8/18/01 Dana loved it!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/13/01 KCobain Very inspirational. Jamie Bell was terrific. Dance scenes were dazzling. 5 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg This is not the greatest British film of all time . 4 stars
7/24/01 Pia Wesley Really good movie based on true situations of males being homaphobic. 5 stars
7/10/01 Monday Morning Just like Billy Jack except with dancing instead of head-kicking. Seriously, 'twas lame. 3 stars
6/23/01 Onyx Wonderful story. Enjoyed it. The ending was beautiful. 4 stars
6/09/01 Girl 9 NO BILLY NO! Everything about this film has been overrated, from the story to the actors. 2 stars
5/17/01 nowak The reviewer for iF Magazine is simply pathetic. 5 stars
5/14/01 Dave Truly a piece of "shite" 1 stars
5/12/01 Emilio Touching, funny, an excellent film! 5 stars
5/05/01 Bada Bing Crosby The only movie I could see myself watching on a daily basis 5 stars
5/03/01 Antonio Excelent!! The best film year!! 5 stars
4/26/01 Twang Kern Zern If I never see another movie in my life, I'll die happy because I've watched Billy Elliot. 5 stars
4/09/01 ChErRyRiPe A touching story that makes us believe all our dreams can come true no matter how difficult 4 stars
4/08/01 Hawkeye A great film- if the acting doesn't stick with you, the soundtrack will. Go see it! 5 stars
4/03/01 Lisa Great Movie. A must see! 5 stars
3/21/01 Jeferdi MAGNIFICA 5 stars
3/17/01 Steve Wright Wonderful example of talent transcending barriers 5 stars
3/04/01 Suzz loved it 5 stars
2/06/01 Rob One of the best movies ever made 5 stars
1/25/01 Elvisfan If you don't like this, check your pulse, you might be dead 5 stars
1/17/01 Dan Rich I really enjoyed this movie. The contrasts between ballet and violence were very astute. 4 stars
12/19/00 Mic Though cliched, those who think this movie is gay, do yourself a favour and watch it 4 stars
12/07/00 Matthew Bartley Go, Billy, go! 5 stars
12/05/00 A GREAT FILM 5 stars
11/28/00 pipeman Great little flick. 5 stars
11/15/00 basilsmom wondeful, warm and touching Jamie Bell is super 4 stars
11/14/00 Flare28 This was one of the best films of the year! 5 stars
11/14/00 Maureen Inspired me to pursue my talent. I loved this movie! Bought the soundtrack. 5 stars
11/13/00 D Pedersen Aw... how sweet 5 stars
11/10/00 spork-girl you are all just gay-dancing bashing 5 stars
11/07/00 Heather Heartwarming little movie, loved the ending and the T-REX soundtrack 5 stars
11/06/00 Sall S I hardly ever say this with confidence but this movie is a must see! Amazing. 5 stars
10/30/00 neil bartlett heart in the right place. Some inappropriate music & costuming for 198 3 . Take some tissue 4 stars
10/28/00 Rich Knock it all you want, Greg and Oz, I thought it was a great little movie. 5 stars
10/24/00 Daniel Marcusso One of the most wonderful and touching portraits of the childhood I've ever seen. 5 stars
10/22/00 Gonzo Film of the year 5 stars
10/19/00 Klute Pleasant enough, but no life-changer. 3 stars
10/11/00 John JR Absolutely brilliant - tear-jerking, Billy is amazing 5 stars
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  03-Nov-2000 (R)


  02-Nov-2000 (M)

Directed by
  Stephen Daldry

Written by
  Lee Hall

  Julie Walters
  Jamie Bell
  Jamie Draven
  Gary Lewis
  Jean Heywood
  Stuart Wells

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