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  Publicity Stills of
"Make It Happen"
(Courtesy of GV)

Director: Darren Grant
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tessa Thompson, Riley Smith, Julissa Bermudez, Ashley Roberts
RunTime: 1 hr 30 mins
Released By: GV
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 4 September 2008


Lauryn (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a young woman from a small town in Indiana who moves to Chicago with dreams of entering the Chicago School of Music and Dance. But after rejection and a series of misfortunes she finds herself working in a burlesque club. The club proves to be a place of conflict and self-discovery, helping Lauryn to realize that even though plans may change, dreams never do.

Movie Review:

Let’s face it. Movies of the inspiration genre have been greatly saturated. Gone are the days when it is possible to feel truly inspired to reach for our dreams regardless of the odds after watching such films. Nowadays, it takes a lot more imagination and creativity to inject something fresh into the genre. Simply stating that 'dreams can come true if you persevere' does not quite hit the mark.

Following the footsteps, or rather dance steps of 1983’s "Flashdance", "Make It Happen" tells the story of Lauryn (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a young girl from a small town in Indiana who dreams of entering the Chicago School of Music and Dance. After getting rejected during her audition, she finds solace in the form of Dana (Tessa Thompson), an exotic dancer who helps her with shelter and a job at the Ruby’s nightclub in the city of Chicago. The club’s owner, Brenda (Karen LeBlanc) offers her a book-keeping job at first, but when things don’t turn out well with her main dancer Carmen (Julissa Bermudez), Lauryn gets the chance to shine as an exotic dancer herself. With her newfound fame, she starts to wonder whether she should proceed along this path or pursue her lifelong dream again. Of course, with a title like "Make It Happen", it takes no genius to figure out what Lauryn's choice would be.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead, last seen as Bruce Willis’ daughter in "Die Hard 4.0" and the protagonist in "Final Destination 3", does a decent job in carrying the film through her passable acting and her far more impressive dancing. The supporting cast is decent enough as well. In fact, 'decent' is the only fitting description I can give in terms of acting for this film. The only reason Winstead stands out is that she is the main actress, thus allowing her the most screen time compared to the rest of the cast. Besides her slick dance moves, it helps too that she gets to flaunt her superb figure, especially her abdominal area.

Despite all the energy spent on dancing, "Make It Happen" is surprisingly lifeless in its storytelling. Things come and go in a formulaic way at such a quick pace that it is easy to lose interest except when the dance scenes are on. Speaking of which, the choreography is well executed, supplemented by catchy pop and hip-hop tunes. The characters though are paper-thinly two-dimensional, making it difficult to relate to them. There is the obligatory love interest for Lauryn in Russ (Riley Smith) the club deejay, yet even the romantic scenes feel forced and mechanical. Little wonder that these are the results since the film is written by Duane Adler, who previously wrote the screenplay for "Step Up" and its sequel, another line of movies about dancing. Earlier, I made a reference to "Flashdance" with regards to the storyline of "Make It Happen". Incidentally, the phrase 'make it happen' is part of the lyrics of the "Flashdance" theme song "What a Feeling", as if to prove that ripping off the storyline is not enough for the filmmakers, so it is more worthwhile to rip off the title too.

For all the talking and dancing, "Make It Happen" is worth only a rental at best when it gets released on DVD. Moviegoers yearning for some inspirational moments are better off looking for them elsewhere. I believe the real life stories of some athletes in the recently concluded Beijing Olympics would fare much better in touching hearts than this film.

Movie Rating:

(Nothing exciting actually happens in "Make It Happen", unless you are fond of watching dance sequences on the big screen)

Review by Tan Heng Hau


. Step Up 2: The Streets (2008)

. Step Up (2006)

. Take The Lead (2007)

. Step Up OST (2006)

. Step Up 2: The Streets OST (2008)

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