Review By: Staff
I remember a time, not so long ago, when the dance movie was indeed a rare thing. Years would go by without the need for a film which primarily consisted of people dancing and 'finding their dreams'. Ah, those were the days.
In 2006 however, we live in a time where dancing movies are as common as sports movies. For those who still yearn for more, even after Take the Lead, Save the Last Dance 2, Shall We Dance?, or even Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom Dancing & Charm School, they will surely be thrilled with yet another foray into the not-so-forbidden world of dance.
Step Up follows the Save the Last Dance route by mixing classical dance with hip-hop but forgets that for everyone who's seen that movie, this one hasn't a shred of originality.
Tyler (Channing Tatum) is a boy from the 'wrong side of the tracks', who regularly enjoys strutting his stuff on the dance floor of his local club. He also enjoys vandalizing random buildings such as that of the Maryland School for the Arts. But when he gets caught out, he is court ordered to spend 200 hours of community service there, taking on janitorial duties.
Nora (Jenna Dewan) is a dance student who's mother refuses to believe in her dream that she will be a dancer. When her partner for her senior dance is injured, Nora is in desperate need of someone to, ahem, 'Step Up'. You'll never guess who she picks.
It's a hugely contrived set-up and one which leaves a nagging question throughout. Is an inexperienced criminal really more trustworthy and talented than any of the other students at the school? This is semi-answered in an unconvincing training scene where all of the potential guys fail miserably but of course Tyler excels.
This whole charade is made even more depressing by the fact that Rachel Griffiths, best known for her breakout role opposite Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding and later Six Feet Under, has been reduced to the role of disapproving headmistress. It wouldn't be so bad if she had been turned into a real bitch, giving the role at least some comic value, but she's never really as nasty as you'd hope. She seems to be rather apathetic about the whole thing actually. It's hard not to blame her.
There are some well-choreographed dance scenes but they're not enough to sustain enough interest up until the predictable conclusion. The lead, Channing Tatum is a male model and his acting is pretty much what you would expect of someone who's job consists of pouting and flexing his muscles. Behind the eyes, he's dead.
Another problem is the lack of real conflict. It all seems so easy for the two to excel.
'Special' features includes some unfunny Bloopers, an uninteresting Dance Competition on myspace, some music videos, an Audio Commentary with the stars and director (ie the ones to blame), a Featurette which laughably claims this movie 'will be different from other films' and some Deleted Scenes.
The best thing I could say about this is that it’s better than Save the Last Dance 2 but then that’s hartdly difficult. While the dance scenes at least appear genuine, the plot and characters don't. Teen girls are going to lap it up so I perhaps shouldn't be too caustic – I'm not the target audience. But any potential crossover appeal for those who need some sort of originality, intellect, wit or even trashy entertainment out of their movie is dashed immediately. Don’t rent – it’ll only encourage them.
Movie Grade: D+
DVD Features Grade: C-
Overall Grade: D+