This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Mia (Leah Pipes) and Armando (E. J. Bonilla) face tragedy together in Susan Seidelman’s overwrought melodrama MUSICAL CHAIRS

The International Film Festival of Manhattan
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St.
Thursday, November 15, $13-$15, 9:00
Festival runs through November 15

One of two closing-night features of the International Film Festival Manhattan (along with Chris McIntyre’s 21 & a Wake-Up) Susan Seidelman’s Musical Chairs is a predictable, plodding tale that is meant to be a celebration of life but is dragged down by Marty Madden’s ridiculously cliché-riddled script. E. J. Bonilla stars as Armando, a young man who dreams of becoming a ballroom dancer. His mother, Isabel (Priscilla Lopez), wants him to hook up with his childhood friend Rosa (Angelic Zambrana), but he has his heart set on his boss’s (Philip Willingham) girlfriend, Mia (Leah Pipes). After Mia and Armando share a hot dance at the studio where they both work, she is hit by a cab and paralyzed. She is ready to give up on everything, but Armando won’t let her, even trying to convince her to take part in the first-ever New York wheelchair ballroom dance competition. Musical Chairs feels more like an overly simplistic Family Channel movie-of-the-week than a theatrical film, mired down by a continuous stream of inspirational messages about love and life that get tiresome quickly, delivered by cardboard caricatures in telegraphed scenes that couldn’t be more obvious. Seidelman’s career started so promisingly in the 1980s with Smithereens and Desperately Seeking Susan, but her successes have disappointingly been few and far between ever since, and it’s best to just sit out her latest. Musical Chairs will be screening November 15 at 9:00 at the Quad with Jerell Rosales’s short Born to Dance This Way, closing out the IFFM, a week of independent films by and about New Yorkers.

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