If Step Up were a painting it would be by-the-numbers because there is nothing here that we haven’t seen before. To go along with that, it isn’t even as good as what we have seen before, but it is sure to make its money back as audiences love these dancing movies. It is just too bad this one couldn’t have been a little more unique.
What we have here is Channing Tatum as bad boy Tyler Gage. Tyler and a couple of his buddies sneak into the Maryland School of the Arts and decide to trash the place. I have always wondered what kind of people break into a building, trash it and call that fun. Fortunately I now know it takes three idiots, and this is the guy we are supposed to be rooting for. Yeah, I am really in his corner now. Why not pair him with Britney Spears so we’ll have a real genius convention?
As fate would have it a rent-a-cop shows up on the scene and, in an effort to save his buddies, Tyler takes the fall and learns that his punishment will be 200 hours of community service at the school. This leads us to Nora played by Jenna Dewan, a relative cutie that attends MSA as a dance student and is prepping for her senior showcase in an effort to get picked up by a dance company upon graduation… Please tell me you see where this is going… Okay, one more hint. Nora’s partner sprains his ankle, Tyler is a wicked dancer that loves to flail his arms about as if he is being attacked by a swarm of bees and his janitorial clothes and bad boy image manage to attract Nora’s attention. Oh yeah, all that and his dance routine that he puts on for his two boys in the parking lot. Yeah, Tyler dances for his friends… what of it? He’s hardcore yo!
If you are buying into that premise then by all means run to the theaters, otherwise your only chance for enjoyment are a couple of good dance numbers. The first one comes about an hour into the film and the final number is okay by movie standards, but by no means special.
Step Up is a film that is trying way too hard to be something it’s not. The script was far from adequate as we see Tyler and his friends stealing cars for cash and not thinking twice. In fact we are asked to laugh at a scene where Tyler’s best friend Mac (Damaine Radcliff) sets up his little brother (De’Shawn Washington) to try and steal a BMW. When the alarm goes off they run away laughing. Ha, ha, ha. “Watch out little bro’ let me go steal this one over here so we can get outta here.” Gimme a break. Not even real car jackers are this stupid and I don’t consider stealing cars to be a profession overrun with college grads. Obviously this story line runs full circle, but why ruin all the snazzy surprises?
While dancing films still seem to make a fare amount of coin at the box and considering their small production budgets I don’t think this is the last we will see of them, I only hope a little more care is taken in script development the next time around.