Recap: Holiday Spin (2012)

My PVR didn’t catch the first couple minutes of this movie, so IMDb is going to help me out here:


Blake and his mother Roxy live in Charlotte, NC. Roxy owns a dance studio and Blake is looking forward to a career as a fighter. On Thanksgiving Eve, there is a terrible car accident. Blake’s mother is killed and he is seriously injured. After he recovers, he finds Ruben at his bedside announcing he is his father and is taking him back to Miami. At 17, Blake cannot live on his own and has no choice but to go with the man who abandoned him as a baby.

Ooh, very dramatic.

First things first, let’s establish the main characters. Blake is like a broody Zac Efron with lots of teen boy hair and super thick eyebrows, and Ruben is played by RALPH MACCHIO! That’s all you need to know.

Deadbeat dad Ruben brings Blake to his apartment, which is conveniently above his dance studio, Le Jeté. Ruben introduces Blake to his fiancée, Emily, as well as a young female dancer, Pia. She’s from Chicago, but shacking up with these two while Ruben trains her.

We find out that button-nosed Pia won Junior Nationals last year, but her partner tore his Achilles tendon, so she’s had to pair up with a new partner, Rob. Ruben is confident that Rob and Pia will be his ticket to the top! Emily lightly teases Ruben that they were the best dancers back in the day, and he rudely shoots her down to say that they weren’t, because they came in SECOND PLACE. Blake sneers, “Maybe you weren’t as good as you thought you were.” These assholes.

So for some reason, Pia has a nemesis, Tezza. She’s crazy and taunts Pia about losing whenever she sees her. Losing what, you ask? Another unrealistic contest that awards an insane amount of money! The Holiday Spin is a dance contest on Christmas Eve, in which the dance partners have to dance to a Christmas carol. The big prize is a whopping $15K that goes to the winning dance studio. The pair automatically move on to represent their state in some ballroom competition or something. Since Pia’s new partner Rob is Ruben’s pet prodigy and a reigning champ, Le Jeté has a chance to win big! And boy, do they need to win because we find out later that they’re bleeding money left, right, and centre.

Meanwhile, Emily tries to figure out why Ruben never tried to connect with his son after all these years. He doesn’t even know why, but that it was too late by the time he wanted to. You’re a bad dad, Ruben. Emily assures him that it’s never too late, which is definitely not true.

Let’s meet Rob, because he is the best at being the worst. He’s got little earrings, a bird tattoo on his hip, and a shitty attitude. I’d like to think that I would’ve hated him in high school, but I had very bad taste in dudes. Rob and Pia are dating, but it seems very new. He gets Pia in his bedroom and is trying to seduce her with his teen pecs. They kiss on his bed for five seconds and when his hand travels to her thigh, she calls him off and says she’s NOT READY. This girl has been watching her Degrassi.

The next morning, Blake wakes up to rumba music coming from the studio downstairs. He wanders in wearing cut-off sweatpants and a white tank top and sees Pia and Rob dancing under Ruben’s tutelage. Some nobody named Josh says hey to Blake, exposits that he’s dance partners with some girl named Mandy, and then asks if Blake dances. He says no. Not yet anyway!

So even though Pia and Rob are Ruben’s favourites, they don’t dance well together. Just as Ruben is trying to figure out why, Blake literally butts in, unsolicited, with “They’re going too fast!” Get out of here with your sweatshorts, Blake! Thankfully, he takes my advice. Later, Ruben warns him not to do that again, but that he appreciated his advice. Blake is rude and sassy, sulking “Are we done here?” before storming off again. Blake is very dramatic.

OMG, Pia catches Rob cheating on her!!! With Tezza!!! Tezza smiles like a cat that got the cream, and Rob seems more peeved by losing his O than anything else. He goes to confront her at home (Le Jeté) when Blake busts in to see if everything’s okay. The two boys measure dicks for a minute before Pia breaks things off with Rob.

Ruben is super pissed about their broken-off partnership, and he takes it out on Blake. He runs off, only to be confronted by Rob and his lame cronies, who say things like, “Sup cuz! Hey, I’m talking to you, tough guy!” Before a fight breaks out, some dude comes out of nowhere all, WE GOT A PROBLEM HERE? Rob and his cool gang peel out. This new guy apparently owns an MMA studio up the street and asks Blake if he’s a fighter, even though he would literally have no reason to ask him that. Blake says yes.

Back at Le Jeté, Pia is auditioning a dude to be Rob’s substitute. The guy is super into himself, and it’s obvious they aren’t a good match. Blake enters the studio uninvited again, and tells Pia offside that this new dude is not the right fit for her and that she’s wasting her time. What did Ruben just tell you, Blake? BTW, Ruben is basically in a downward spiral of anxiety and paranoia by now and he tells Emily he thinks Blake is purposely trying to sabotage Pia’s career just to spite him! Dude, take a fucking chill pill.

For no reason, father and son go shopping for a Christmas tree. Ruben gets super weird and embraces a tree, reminiscing about Blake’s mom. Blake is just morose as can be. These two. He insists that he wants to pay his own room and board. When Ruben asks for his plans once he turns 18, he says he’ll move back home to North Carolina. Ruben asks if he can somehow change his mind. Only with dance!

Faux-family time. Ruben, Emily, and Pia are dancing while decorating the Christmas tree. As you do. Pia is flirting with Blake and he LIKES it. But then Jingle Bells comes on, and he suddenly remembers his mom’s dead, so he goes to bed to cry.

MMA guy, Clayton, shows Blake around his gym, explaining that he found this great lease two months ago, and already wants to expand! Clayton is probably prescribing to Ruben’s business model and will be bankrupt in a year. Even though Clayton is still talking to him, Blake just walks over to a punching bag and just starts fucking whaling on it. Clayton is impressed, because he’s an idiot.

After Pia has another crappy audition for a new partner, she catches Blake shirtless! When he snarks about her audition, she asks if he thinks he can better. She knows he can dance! He smiles for basically the first time in the whole movie!

Later, Rob confronts Pia outside the studio to grovel and win her back. He turns everything around on her, explaining that when she wouldn’t sleep with him, it made him feel something was wrong with him. Boys are the worst. Pia finally agrees and stays firm with him, so he leaves in anger.

I’m going to wrap up the next five scenes very quickly: Blake is good at MMA, Clayton loves him. Pia judges Blake for paying his own father room and board. Ruben and Emily invite Blake and Pia to a Christmas party, and Blake needs new clothes for it. Ruben’s super poor, and is banking everything on Pia winning the Holiday Spin. The four teens shop, Pia buys a sexy red dress and admits she doesn’t miss Rob, and we find out Tezza and Rob are now dance partners.

Ruben, Emily, Blake, and Pia show up at the Christmas party together. Christmas music is blaring out at this dumb party, so naturally Ruben and Emily start grooving while people form a circle to ooh and ahh at their lame moves. In comes Rob and Tezza! Why are they even invited?! They take over the dance floor and totally dominate, because they are legitimately fantastic dancers. But Blake gets that competitive boner, so he tells Pia they’re looking at second place (Tezza and Rob), and then asks her to dance.

They take back the dance floor (which is the party host’s kitchen/dining area, fyi) and Ruben and Emily are like !!! while watching Blake finally bust a move. And then the scene turns into West Side Story with dudes snapping fingers and joining Blake in a choreographed routine! It’s a good thing that Pia thought to wear her matching red booty shorts under her dress, because when Blake flips her over and under, she flashes every single person at this party, including children.

THERE’S A DANCE-OFF! It’s total bullshit because Blake and Pia “win,” and Rob and Tezza slink off, even though the real losers are the people that invited all these jerks to the party.

Obviously, Blake and Pia are now dance partners. It’s a week before the contest, and Ruben’s overseeing the two of them train together. Blake’s coming out of his shell and starting to bond with his new family. But Ruben’s still worried about that cash money. He even sits in his office and stares forlornly at his Holiday Spin second place trophy, which is super pathetic and thus, hysterical to me. But now that everything’s on the line with these two, he starts worrying again.

Ruben takes it upon himself to finally act like a daddy to anyone really, so he corners Pia to see how she feels about Blake. He’s worried that if something happened (like it did with Rob), their partnership would be affected. This all sounds very paternally protective, but Ruben is only ever thinking of numero uno here. He wants that first place prize, and he does not give a fuck what he has to do to get it.

To spite Ruben (according to him anyway), Pia and Blake go on their first date. It is super gross because Blake is basically making love to a sloppy burger in front of her, and she’s just in love already. He explains that he denied the Dance inside of him because he didn’t want to be like Ruben (fair) and he got called names too much (ditto).

After their date, they go home to see there’s been an attack (!) upon Le Jeté! The studio’s been totally trashed, as you can see, with CHEMICALS!!! Oh god, not a tipped-over Christmas tree!


Ruben apparently came downstairs and found it like that (that’s the beautiful and youthful Emily beside him, BTW). I am 100% of the belief that Ruben has done this for insurance purposes. Or something. My theory doesn’t really pan out in the end, but he’s still guilty to me! How did he not hear any of it happening? He yells that everything’s ruined. Pia and Blake blame Rob, but the police say has an alibi – he was bonking Tezza (I’m paraphrasing).

Ruben’s losing students left and right, because due to the EXTENSIVE DAMAGE, they have no space to train. This also means Pia and Blake don’t have studio space. Don’t they? Well, apparently Clayton has offered up his gym after hours. Ruben thinks it just might work! Clayton weirdly asks Blake if he can dance as well as he can fight, and Blake basically cries, DO I! Hilariously, he says “EVEN BETTER!” Stop that. Ruben creeps on Blake and Pia flirting (he’s trying to teach her how to hit a punching bag while standing approximately two feet away from it), and snaps at them that that’s enough and it’s time to go. Classic dad!

That night, he climbs into bed exhausted. He asks Emily for advice about the lovebirds. Emily, being the only sane person in this house, tells him that it’s out of his control, so just accept it, move on, and everything will be fine. You don’t deserve her, Ruben!

Also, there’s a scene where Pia and Blake clean up the studio. Blake is literally chipping up the hardened chemicals with a crowbar without any sort of protective gear. You just need to know that this scene existed.

Ruben ignores Emily’s advice, and confronts Blake about his intentions with Pia. He explains that he feels responsible for Pia, and Blake laughs that he’s finally feeling responsible and fatherly for once. OOOOH. Ruben spits that it’s unfair for Blake to lead her on when he knows he’s leaving once he turns 18. He doesn’t want Blake to make the same mistake he did. Apparently when Blake was conceived, Ruben and Roxy were in their prime! They could’ve had it all! Roxy, however, wanted to raise her child when she found out she was pregnant, and Ruben wanted to DANCE, so he took off. Blake hurls back that he would never abandon his own child. Ruben replies that he might just force Pia to make a tough choice anyway (like, to choose a school out of state, or…?). NOT THE SAME THING, RUBEN!

Finally, some sexy time! Pia and Blake are dancing great together, however they never practice to their Christmas carol, so what’s the damn point? They get close, and Blake moves in for the First Kiss. She shies away, and says they can’t. He demands to know why. She knows he won’t stay, that he’s planning to leave soon. He get in her face and says huskily, “Maybe you can change my mind.” YOU’RE AS BAD AS YOUR DUMB FATHER! DON’T PUT THAT SHIT ON A GIRL! She’s afraid that he’s doing all of this to spite her dad (LOL, Ruben’s paranoia is starting to rub off). He yells at her to just leave, and then attacks a punching bag out of rage.

Look, I get it. He’s supposed to be 17 with a dead mom, so he’s a torpedo of hormones and anger and sadness and confusion right now. But she explained herself clearly and calmly, and he totally freaked out when he couldn’t get what he wanted. How different from Rob is he here?

Not to belabour the point, but this is a Christmas movie targeting a younger audience than most. To see Blake try to emotionally manipulate Pia out of feeling her very legitimate feelings and fears with an outburst and indirect violence is very scary and worrisome. Ruben has been pressuring her to win this competition (for him) for who knows how long, Rob pressured her to move faster than she wanted, and now Blake is pressuring her to be with him. Fuck this movie.

The next day, they’re now out of sync and pissed at one another. Detective Ruben’s cracked the case and realizes something’s changed. After practice, Blake gets a phone call from some MMA guy, asking him if he wants to be in an upcoming fight. Blake is like, “I’m kinda in a weird place right now,” and the actor delivers the line in such a weird affect that I laughed out loud. The guy tells him it’s fine, but not to take too long to get back on the horse. Or he’d be like YOUR LOSS and never call him again. Blake assures him he’ll get back to fighting after Christmas.

Oh for fuck’s sakes. Ruben is waiting outside to confront Blake for the ninth time in an hour. It’s about the partnership being affected by their relationship. Blake’s like, don’t even worry about it because I’m gone as soon as I turn 18 (which is basically in a day or two).

Very important and sad scene: Pia meets up with Mandy to unpack the shit that’s just happened with Blake. She mentions that she’s not sure she wants to risk wasting the prime of her career by getting involved with a guy who clearly has major baggage. Mandy is the worst, because she just invalidates everything she says to tell her to just forget about it all and go for it! I’m super upset about this. Pia needs a good Get-A-Grip friend, and Mandy is not that friend. I wish Pia had asked Emily instead.

Blake turns 18. He hates life, but Ruben, Emily, and Pia throw him a mini party anyway. Emily, queen of the movie, loses points from me when she gives her 18-year-old stepson STRIPED UNDERWEAR. It’s supposed to be funny-cutesy, but it’s WEIRD. Pia gives him sparring gloves (he loves them), and Ruben gives him a DVD with unspecified “footage” (creepy). After this sad birthday, Pia asks Blake to go get ice cream. He’s all pissy with her, but agrees.

They’re walking when Rob stumbles out of a storefront and crashes into Blake (this happens a LOT in the movie, it’s like he just waits around corners to do this to him), but then seems to sincerely apologize for it, and for making his life hell lately. He explains that he just found out about Blake’s mom. The actor does a very realistic job of seeming genuinely apologetic.

But then he lures him in with a bro hug to call him a mama’s boy. What ensues is some crazy fake fight that mixes dancing and martial arts and BACK FLIPS! Rob even goes after Blake with a 2×4?! Blake gets him on the ground and punches him approximately eight times straight in the face just as the cops show up.

Blake’s being detained. Pia and Rob are arguing. She accuses him of instigating the fight so that Blake wouldn’t be able to dance in the competition. He says he’ll drop the charges if she kisses him. She begrudgingly accepts, and I’m just incredibly sad that this girl has no positive male influences in her life, but rather a gaggle of men and boys that try to sway her opinions constantly. Of course, Blake sees them kiss and gets upset (but it literally never comes up again, so whatever). He’s released.

Later, he’s packing to leave (because he’s now 18). Ruben comes into the room and tells him that their family doesn’t behave like this. I don’t know if he means the fact that he’s leaving, or the fight. If it’s the former, it’s actually exactly what you did when Blake was a baby, so he’s just literally following your lead there, Rubes. They have this exchange:

Ruben: “I’m your father!”
Blake: “No, you’re the guy that knocked up my mother!”

Audience goes wild (me). Ruben feels very disrespected in his own home, and I have to wonder, did he think his estranged son would magically forgive and forget the fact that Ruben has literally NEVER been around his entire life? That he’d become his new dance prodigy and all would be made good again?

Oh my god, this fight gets way worse though. “How long are you going to make me suffer?” Ruben demands from his SON. “I’ve been paying for this for 18 years!” How? How exactly? For all intents and purposes, you fucked off forever with nary a word to the mother of your child or your actual kid. You didn’t pay any sort of compensation like child support or alimony. You admitted to your own fiancé that you just never got around to making amends, so what exactly have you been suffering from, Ruben?

Oh, these are the failures he’s been facing: GETTING SECOND PLACE AT THE HOLIDAY SPIN APPROXIMATELY 20 YEARS AGO, and thathelosthiswifeRoxy. That last part is clearly not as important as the first. He pleads with Blake not to leave Pia (only because it will ruin his chances of winning first place, not because he cares about her).

Anyway, Fuckin’ Ruben re-gives the DVD to Blake, urging him to watch it. Blake storms out. Emily comes into the room and basically shames Ruben into letting his son leave without fixing it. She is PISSED and it’s so glorious, I’m in love with her. She tells him that he’s not doing enough to be there for him:

Ruben: “I care about my son!”
Emily: “Not as much as you care about winning!”


Blake’s just hanging out at the diner. He puts Ruben’s DVD in his laptop and is not at all horrified to see that the video is CREEPILY SHOT FOOTAGE OF BLAKE DANCING AS A YOUNG BOY. It’s all shaky cam style, clearly shot from like, the fucking rafters and Ruben is huskily whispering things like, “Good job, Blake! Yes, you got this!” while Young Blake twirls a girl around some dance studio. THE WORST. Why are people in holiday movies so fucking creepy?

Pia is dancing alone at night in the MMA gym to Silent Night. All signs point to imminent danger, and sure enough, Blake has somehow managed to sneak past her and be further into the room than she is without her noticing?! He just stares at her, brooding. Run away, Pia! They reconcile and Blake never once apologizes for anything he’s done to scare Pia. Blake is like, one movie away from turning into David from FEAR:


The next morning (where was he all night?!), he shows up at Le Jeté to apologize to Ruben, who apologizes in return. That’s all wrapped up neatly in a bow just in time for the Holiday Spin, I guess. Let’s hope Blake and Pia don’t lose, because Ruben will probably set their studio/home on fire with all of them inside.

Josh and Mandy dance to Gloria in Excelsis Deo with the pasa doble. It’s all fine until she starts riding on his back like a backpack. It’s confusing and I would feel bad that they don’t even get a third place pity prize – or even another scene on camera – except that Mandy is a shitty friend and Josh only said five words to Blake.

Time for Blake and Pia to dance! Her dress is very scandalous for a 17-year-old, but then I feel judgy and old saying that, so sure, let’s go with it. They dance the samba to Jingle Bells. HE SLAPS HER ASS DURING THE ROUTINE!!! Where are her parents? This is considered a massive break for her, and they’re never mentioned! Wait a minute, aren’t these kids in school? Have they graduated? What’s happening? Is Ruben okay with this ass slap? Are the judges?! The audience is like a Full House audience, wowed about the simplest of dance moves. Ruben and Emily are PSYCHED.

Here we go! It’s time for defending champ Rob and Tezza. Their dance style is never announced, and I’ve seen maybe five episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, so it could’ve been anything. They dance to We Wish You a Merry Christmas, but I should mention that it’s sped up, so their dance is actually AWESOME and energetic and their costumes are way more festive than Pia and Blake’s! The only downside is that they end up making out on the dance floor as their finishing move. These are supposed to juniors!

OMG, IT’S A TIE. For the very first time in the history of the Holiday Spin, it’s come down to a dance-off!

I should note that for something that’s totally unprecedented, both pairs are completely prepared, with a change of costume and song, to do another tiebreaker routine. THIS IS BULLSHIT.

They each get a few minutes to prepare. Rob crashes into Blake again, trying to egg him on for another fight. Pia gives Blake A Look and he backs down, not willing to fall for that old routine again!

Rob and Tezza lose a coin flip, so they have to go first. Does it really matter? You don’t get some home court advantage or anything. Anyway, they do some dramatic tango-esque dance to ‘Tis the Season, and it’s very scandalous and sexy again. The audience loves it and so do I!

RIGHT BEFORE THEIR DANCE, Blake’s like, oh by the way we’re doing the waltz. Pia says they’re not prepared, and he goes, JUST FOLLOW MY LEAD. Even perfect Emily is like, umm this is a terrible idea, but then Fuckin’ Ruben is suddenly filled with conviction and announces that HE CAN DO IT. I hope you meant THEY can do it, you asshole.

They set up on the dance floor. The audience is murmuring about her new dress, probably because it looks she stole it from a prom limo in 1997. “Let’s just dance,” Blake helpfully whispers to her. YEAH DUDE. They dance to a creepily slow Carol of the Bells, and it’s so boring and lurchy, and just not very smooth like Rob and Tezza’s routine at all.


Listen, I’ve seen a lot of dancing movies. You do not make the rival team better than the “good” team unless you have them win at the end (e.g. Bring It On)! Tezza’s understandably pissed, because she has also seen Bring It On, and storms off.

Oh GOOD, Blake and Pia finally kiss for the first time. IN FRONT OF EVERYONE. Ruben’s just ecstatic as can be.

Back at Le Jeté, Ruben is putting a Christmas tree up right in the middle of the newly restored dance studio. It’s Christmas Day, so there’s no point, and you need that space to dance! This movie doesn’t give a shit about consistency so neither should I, I guess. Blake enters the studio, carrying a packed bag. Ruben’s distraught to see that he’s leaving because they just reconciled and 18 years of estrangement is now behind them, never to be mentioned again, I’m sure. Blake’s like, I’m only going down the street, silly! How is this unemployed kid able to afford an apartment? He would not have received ANY money from his dead mom since she only died a month ago.

Ugh, Blake gives Ruben some first place dance medal. I have no idea what it’s for, or the significance of it, but then they tear up and hug for literally the last 20 seconds of the movie until it fades out.


1 Rating

I’m actually surprised that I rated it this poorly. It wasn’t overtly offensive like others, but I just hated the men in this movie so much, I couldn’t give it any less than an outraged Dean.

Run away with me, Emily!

Top IMDb Comment:

The last time I witnessed such acting it was during my daughters kindergarten play and Ruben (Ralph Macchio) your over acting was comical and unbelievable. I believe that you peaked when you Waxed on and Waxed off.


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