Highly Scientific Analysis: Step into the FYA lab as we dissect our subjects in a search for the good, the bad and the downright ridiculous. See More...
Let's Go to the Movies!: Scientific analysis, discussion and freak-outs about film. See More...

A Highly Scientific Analysis of Center Stage

Erin conducts a highly scientific analysis of Center Stage.

A Highly Scientific Analysis of Center Stage

Good morning, students! I, Professor Erin, am here today to conduct a Highly Scientific Analysis of one of the greatest slumber parties of all time, Center Stage. Yes! I KNOW! All your life you have been waiting for the glory of Center Stage to be analyzed scientifcally and now all of your dreams are coming true! Quick! Go out and buy a lotto ticket! And then send it to me!

As you know, we here at FYA University strive to bring you all only the most accurate and scientific data, which is why you can rest assured that this post will not be prone to hyperbole or exaggeration of any kind, because that is just not my style. So please allow me to scientifically explain why Center Stage is one of the GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME. OF ALL TIME!

FYA follows a very detailed review protocol for our Highly Scientific Analyses* of Teen Films, as already displayed in Posh's review of the seminal 90s classic, Get Over It, and Meghan's self-sacrificing review of Sorority Wars, so you know our data is ALWAYS ACCURATE. Here we go!

* Yeah! I'm a scientist but I ALSO KNOW ENGLISH!

The So-Called Plot:

Jody, a sweet-as-pie country bumpkin with a whole hell of a lot of teeth, wins a coveted scholarship to the American Ballet Academy, despite having horrible turnout and a weak pointe. This is always a plot in dance movies and books, as if turnout and pointe aren't the two KEY ELEMENTS of ballet. Look, I don't mind saying that I was a shitty ballet dancer as a child, because my legs were too long for my torso and my neck was too fat and my arms were crap and I also wasn't willing to work at it. But turnout and point are the EASY parts. You learn those when you are four. Anyway, I digress. Toothy Jody is joined by Eva, who you can tell is tough and inner-city because she chews gum and pronounces her name with the correct Spanish accents. Eva doesn't like establishment, black leotards or her roommate Maureen. Maureen is the American Ballet Academy's premiere student and is always called on to demonstrate in class, because she has wonderful technique. But her wonderful technique has not garnered her any friends! She's so lonely!

Also rounding out the cast of students are the milquetoast Charlie, who is a ballet dancer and a straight man, Erik O. Jones (the O is for Oprah), who is one of the same things that Charlie is, and the delightfully Russian Sergei, whose job it is to show up and say funny things in a Russian accent.

All of the students at ABA dream of being offered a job in the American Ballet Company, but to do so, they must impress Jonathan, played by PeterGallagher's Eyebrows, the head of ABC.JoiningPeter Gallagher's Eyebrowsare teacher Juliette Simon and Bad Boy Ballet Dancer Cooper Nielson, who is smarting from a recent breakup.

Jody spends much of her year at ABA being yelled at for her turnout, not working nearly hard enough, and having an ill-advised affair with Cooper, much to the dismay of Straight Charlie, who really thought he was going to be able to put his penis in a girl at some point. Eva, on the other hand, pisses off her teachers and Jonathan by being frequently late and rude during class, so even though she's probably the best dancer at ABA, she gets a shit part in the end-of-season workshop. Maureen starts dating the delightful Jim and develops an eating disorder and eventually quits ballet, giving her starring role in the workshop to Eva, much to Peter Gallagher's Eyebrow's consternation.

Meanwhile, Charlie, Jody and Erik are cast in Cooper Nielson's workshop ballet, but when Erik sprains his ankle at the last minute, Cooper has to step in to take his part. And then they dance to Michael Jackson and it's the best!

All's well that ends well - Charlie, Eva and Erik all get spots in the American Ballet Company, Maureen goes to college and eats pizza without puking and little Jody Sawyer ends up as the principal ballerina in Cooper Nielson's brand new edgy ballet company even though her technique is still extremely shitty! And there's even a slow clap at the end!

Casting Callback:

Amanda Schull as Jody

Oh, Amanda Schull, I'd ask what happened to you, but I know because you keep popping up on my tv shows! Amanda was in One Tree Hill (which I didn't watch) and then played Meredith, the student that Actor/Director Chad Lowe was boning in Pretty Little Liars and she was also in Sorority Wars.

Zoe Saldana as Eva

That's right! Zoe Saldana is in this movie! Actually, this was her first real role, so basically, Center Stage is responsible for EVERY MOVIE that Zoe Saldana has been in since. James Cameron and JJ Abrams had better pay this movie some sort of finder's fee!

Susan May Pratt as Maureen

Susan May Pratt was pretty much my girl crush from years 1997-2001. 10 Things I Hate About You! Drive Me Crazy! Center Stage! This is prime Slumber Party material! I wonder if Susan May Pratt would come to an FYA slumber party.

Peter Gallagher's Eyebrows as Jonathan

From Sandy Cohen in The O.C. to FYA favorite Bill Pullman's jerky brother in While You Were Sleeping, Peter Gallagher's Eyebrows have been a source of constant joyin my life, and I will defend them to the death against any malicious waxer or threader.

Chemistry Grade:
D- for Charlie and Jody
C- for Cooper and Jody
B+ for Jim and Maureen

I just can't bring myself to care about Charlie and Jody's romance, mostly because the two actors have no chemistry together and I don't understand why anyone would date Charlie. Yes, he's pretty and likes girls! But are those really the only requirements for a boyfriend? Plus, he spends all his time wiping Jody's tears and looking like he's about to bust out into some late 70's "easy soul" ballad about loving a girl who loves someone else and IT IS GROSS.

Jody and Cooper are marginally hotter - at least Cooper actually tries to hit on her - but he is a jerk who doesn't set his expectations accordingly and plus he has this smirk on his face that I always want to punch off.

Maureen and Jim fare much better, mostly due to Jim's charming pursual of Maureen No-Last-Name and also how much cuter he is than all the other guys. Of course, were Jim not so charming, his vaguely stalkerish behavior might cause me to mace him, so a full grade was knocked off because no man should use Lloyd Dobbler as a training guide for how to pick up women.

Cliche Count: 7

Country Mouse in the big city: 2
Inner-City Girl with Attitude Which Hides Artistic Soul: 6
Hot Bad Boy Who Treats Everyone Like Shit: 4
Dance Sequences: 32
"Forbidden" Dancing That Frees Teens From Their Inner Turmoil: 2
Bitchy Girl Who Has a Heart of Gold: 4

And, just for kicks:

Number of Times Jody's Turnout or Feet are mentioned: 12

Soundtrack:

The soundtrack that plays in the movie and the soundtrack from the movie are two different animals. This movie is about ballet, so there's plenty of Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and Coppelia, but none of that makes it onto the official soundtrack. But! There is also Michael Jackson and Mandy Moore! And they make it on the soundtrack!

But. So does Jamiroquai. Like, A LOT of Jamiroquai. People usually love Jamiroquai or hate them. I once attempted to throw an entire stereo system out of 4-story window because Jamiroquai was playing on the radio and I couldn't figure out a way to turn it off, so I'm guessing you know which side of the divide I fall on.

Slumber Party Potential: Extremely High

Is Center Stage a good movie? No. It is a GREAT movie. Because Center Stage understands that sometimes, when life gets you down, what you need is a movie about pretty people dancing prettily while having pretty problems, all resolved with a little bit of Michael Jackson and some costume changes that really make no sense. Besides, if you watch it with a group of people, see if you don't all shout out, "I'm the best goddamn dancer at the American Ballet Academy; who the hell are you?" Actually, I shout that out a lot, just randomly at people who are walking near me.

But if all that can't convince you, just watch this AMAZING TRAILER for the movie. LIFE DOESN'T HOLD TRYOUTS, Y'ALL!

Erin Callahan's photo About the Author: Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink. When she isn't drowning in a sea of engineers for whom Dilbert is still uproariously funny, she's writing about books, tv, the cult of VC Andrews and more.
K