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  Publicity Stills of "Step Up"
Courtesy of Shaw

Genre: Dance/Romance
Director: Anne Fetcher
Starring: Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, Rachel Griffiths, Mario , Drew Sidora
RunTime: 1 hr 38 mins
Released By: Shaw
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.myspace.com/stepupmovie

Opening Day: 9 Nov 2006

Soundtrack: ACCESS "STEP UP" Soundtrack Review


Tyler Gage is a street smart juvenile delinquent, with a reckless streak that lands him in a world of trouble after he and his friends trash an auditorium at a high school for the performing arts. Sentenced to do community service at the school, he at first wants nothing to do with the students, until he meets a beautiful dancer who's willing to give him a shot. Against all expectations, Ty gets drawn into her world, and discovers his own talent for dance.

Movie Review:

It’s a shame that “Step Up” doesn’t take its own advice when it is essentially a rehash of the modern teenage rebel’s favourite dance-and-achieve-your-dreams movies. An even drearier prospect is that the film, which preaches the importance of breaking the mould, uses one of the dustiest cookie-cutters to fashion the barely sustainable story that “Step Up” has. Substituting originality for enthusiasm, what “Step Up” lacks in surprises, it makes up for with a sense of commendable ferocity amidst its tepid insights into racial and class disparity. And unifying this disparity is what the movie tries so hard to thrust itself at.

Using a tried and overly tested template of romanticising the lives of beautiful people from different sides of the economic pond, “Step Up” brings them together while they leave their problems behind in the wake of over-the-top dance numbers and syrupy lessons about never giving up on dreams. After all, what the movie preaches between the lines of each of its hackneyed scenes are the possible enfranchisement of the lower class through the only things that their situations can afford them – music and dance.

The newest ‘It’ boy, Channing Tatum partners up with the dancer-actress Jenna Dewan, who was mostly recently cast as supporting hot chica in “Take the Lead”, another high-energy dance, cultural mish-mash morality tale. Dewan now takes centre stage as the main hot chica, Nora, a poor little rich girl with a suffocating parent (who actually come across to be doing her more good than she realises) to Tatum’s Tyler, the boy from the bad side of town with non-existent parental units and wayward influences to contend with.

Like its protagonists, the film naturally takes its cue from not having something in common to blending these elements into something cohesive and spectacular in respect to its dancing. Tatum’s innocuous Eminem routine channels Vanilla Ice more often than not as he parades his slew of urban hip-hop in front of Dewan’s relatively urbane brand of ballet. Through their own clichéd set of circumstances, both teenyboppers get paired up for the big dance competition, not only to seal the deal on their summer romance but to prove something to those around them as well.

If you need even more proof of the film’s credentials as a cumulative hodgepodge of the dance movie oeuvre, its first-time director and seasoned dance choreographer is Anne Fletcher who has worked on the most successful of this increasingly pervasive subgenre. Even more telling is that its scriptwriter is Duane Adler, who has only penned “Save the Last Dance” and its sequel. Drafting in choreographers and dancers is not the film’s greatest insurance but it also brings in reputable singers as supporting characters in up-and-coming hip-hop stars such as Mario and established artists like Heavy D. in awkward cameos.

With no discernable chemistry between the 2 model/actors, the film only has the strong and impressive kinaesthesia of its self-important dance sequences to anchor itself to audiences. An almost insulting array of stereotypes hinders the narrative’s movements to the point of misstep but within its own context, the promise of by-the-book predictability is the movie’s biggest asset in regards to its viewers. It’s a generic, wholesome means to an end for its unremarkable message and perhaps, cynicism aside, might inspire somebody somewhere to live out their dreams. Maybe.

Movie Rating:

(Pure trite that never really transcends its material but has a serviceable enough attention to detail when it comes to its dance numbers)

Review by Justin Deimen


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