Gregory Hines, Sammy Davis Jr.; rated PG-13 (violence, sex, nudity, profanity); Cine-plex Odeon Crossroads Cinemas, Cineplex Odeon Midvalley Cinemas, Mann Cottonwood Mall Theaters.
Have you been waiting and waiting for a good, solid dance musical to come along? If so, you may be somewhat disappointed by "Tap," but you will no doubt enjoy the vigorous dance sequences along the way."Tap" is being touted as a tribute to tap dancing, featuring Gregory Hines, perhaps the best-known tap dancer today, and several old-timers who were tap-dancing greats in their heyday.
Unfortunately, it suffers from the same problems typical dance movies in the past have suffered from - despite wonderful scenes that display terrific dancing there are an awful lot of deadly dull moments designed to serve the tired plot that simply gets in the way.
Worse, the older hoofers are sorely underused - including Sammy Davis Jr. - and by the film's end you'll be wishing you'd had more than just a taste of their talent on the screen.
The story has ex-con Max Washington (Hines) leaving prison and going back to his tap-dancing roots. He goes back to "the old neighborhood" in New York and looks up Little Mo (Davis) and Mo's daughter Amy (Suzanne Douglas), both of whom devote their lives to dance.
Mo feels Max is the only modern dancer who can do a routine he has developed that he feels will revive tap dancing in America. He urges Max to be true to his roots. Max also revives his love affair with Amy.
But at the same time Max wants the quick money to be had from his old job with a local gangster as a second-story burglar.
Needless to say the plotting is boring and loaded with typical movie cliches, and the only time the film comes alive is during the dance sequences, which include a lovely "black Astaire and Rogers" routine between Hines and Douglas, a lively dancing-in-the-street bit that brings "Fame" to mind, a nice opening sequence that has Hines keeping his sanity in prison by building a dance number around the sound of a leaky water faucet, and my personal favorite, a "challenge" between Hines and the old-time hoofers, who include "Sandman Sims," Bunny Briggs, Steve Condos, Harold Nicholas (of the Nicholas Brothers), Jimmy Slyde, Pat Rico and Arthur Duncan. Young Savion Glover also has a nice dance bit.
The film really loses its balance in the end, however, when something called "taptronics" takes over. When it is initially introduced, this seems like a joke - but they get serious about it in the film's climax, and the electronically enhanced "tapping" of Hines becomes silly and actually seems to insult the traditions of tap dancing.
"Tap" also seems like a vanity piece for Hines, with everyone telling him how wonderful he is, and, of course, he's the featured performer in every dance sequence. That's OK, but it would have been better to spend more time with the other dancing characters and let them show off more of their stuff.
Of the other dramatic characters, Joe Morton stands out as a giggling gangster reminiscent of Richard Widmark's film debut in "Kiss of Death."
"Tap" is rated PG-13, but should perhaps have received an R for sexual content, nudity, profanity and some violence.