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Mad Hot Ballroom Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Charming and inspiring.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    A testament to the discipline, humor, and life of kids who swing.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Don't miss an opportunity to see Mad Hot Ballroom, though. It will sweep you off your feet.

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Michael Rechtshaffen

    Resistance is futile. It's impossible not to be swept up into the uplifting world of Mad Hot Ballroom, a documentary that can be neatly summed up as the "Spellbound" of competitive ballroom dancing.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Isn't just heartwarming and inspiring, it's a remarkable look at a group of children whose most noteworthy trait is that they are ordinary.

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  • See all Mad Hot Ballroom reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 8+

Dance documentary hits all the right beats.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this documentary tracks students from three NYC public schools as they prepare for an annual citywide ballroom dancing competition. Parents need to know that some of the 11- and 12-year-old interviewees discuss the difficulties in their lives and neighborhoods, including absent parents, drug dealers, and street violence. That said, the children handle these subjects with poise and remarkable self-awareness.

  • Families can talk about the overwhelmingly positive effects of such structured dancing for both students and their teachers. They work hard, dedicate time and energy, and support each other, forming strong networks within their school teams and coming to understand what it means to win, and maybe more importantly, to lose. How do you cope with losing even when you try your best? What is the value of working together toward a common goal? What are the best ways to help teammates or partners to feel confident or learn new skills (whether dance steps, athletic activities, or school work)? How does losing teach you to be strong? And how might winning help you become more generous and sympathetic with other competitors?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Not an issue

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence and scariness: Discussion of violence (including one abstract mention of "kidnappers"), none displayed.

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Kids are learning about gender roles as they learn classic dancing.

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Some of the kids want to become stars, so they show an understanding of celebrity.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false0

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not an issue