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It's graduation day in the small west Texas town of Dancer. The town's largest graduating class in years - five students - includes Keller (Breckin Meyer), Terrell Lee (Peter Facinelli), Squirrel (Ethan Embry) and John (Eddie Mills). The four made a pact when they were 11 that they'd all leave Dancer for Los Angeles on the first bus after graduation. Whether they will go through with it intrigues the other 77 residents of the town; some of whom offer their advice, while the remainder bet on how many of them will actually board the bus. Keller, the instigator, is determined, but Terrell Lee is being pressured by his mother to stay and work in the family oil business. Squirrel's father is an alcoholic and John, who yearns for the farm life, is concerned because his father seems not to care whether he goes or not. Over the course of two days, the four must decide where their futures lie.

"As a coming-of-age movie, Dancer Texas Pop. 81 is a breath of fresh air. The four main characters are real people, like you actually knew at school; not cookie-cutter examples of perceived teen angst - slackers, victims of sexual abuse or drug addicts. The only alcohol in evidence is a bottle of beer consumed during a leisurely conversation on a porch; which prompted someone at the screening I attended to quip 'If it was Australia, they'd all be drunk by now'. That they weren't is a credit to writer/director Tim McCanlies. Its other big plus is the laconic Texas humour that peppers the dialogue, and to which, I suspect, Australian audiences will relate. On the down side, Dancer Texas has a few treacly moments, an ending that's just a little too pat, and it does drag in places. The young cast makes the likeable characters credible; particularly Breckin Meyer in what is essentially the lead role of Keller. Some of the supporting cast are worthy of mention; notably Patricia Wettig as Terrell Lee's overbearing mother, and Wayne Tippit as Keller's grandfather. What shouldn't be overlooked about Dancer Texas is that it deals with potentially the most important decision in life - leaving home - and does it with a refreshing honesty and lack of pretension."
David Edwards

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POP. 81

CAST: Breckin Meyer, Peter Facinelli, Eddie Mills, Ethan Embry, Ashley Johnson, Patricia Wettig, Michael O’Neill, Eddie Jones, Wayne Tippit, Alexandra Holden

DIRECTOR: Tim McCanlies

PRODUCER: Chase Foster, Peter White, Dana Shaffer

SCRIPT: Tim McCanlies

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Andrew Dintenfass

EDITOR: Rob Kobrin

MUSIC: Steve Dorff


RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 29, 1998

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