If you've seen Fame,
or Save the Last Dance, Center Stage or even the Cutting
Edge, then you have seen Step Up. However, despite the fact that
the movie is all too obvious in its inspirations, you have to admit it does
them in style.
You know the story.
Tough street hood is dragged kicking and screaming into an artistic world,
but he slowly starts to learn to respect art and the work that the people
around him are doing. He starts working with a beautiful, rich,
extremely uptight girl who hates him at first but can't deny the smoldering
The cast is made up of a
series of unbearably beautiful actors in their mid-twenties as these
talented high school students.
Channing Tatum (She's
the Man) does a good... if perhaps a little too understated... job of
making the male lead of Tyler likable. It's not an easy job sometimes.
Honestly, his character is a self-centered asshole through most of the
movie. He is a criminal (a vandal and a car thief). He is a very
overdone stereotype in the movies – the white guy who thinks he's a gangsta.
But he is an impressive street dancer (well, sometimes it seems he's more of
a spectacular athlete and incredibly limber than actually a good dancer, but
that's an argument for a choreographer rather than me.).
When he is arrested and
given public service at the Maryland School of the Arts, he quickly falls
for a beautiful and talented dancer named Nora (Jenna Dewan of Tamara).
She goes through the requisite problems – her mother doesn't respect her
aspirations, she doubts her own talent, she needs to be perfect in a dance
exhibition to become a professional. Unfortunately, her dancing
partner hurts his leg (that never happens...) and she is stuck unable to
practice. When Nora can't find anyone else to dance with (sure, any
guy in that school would walk through glass to spend everyday twirling her)
she decides to give the streetwise tough a chance. Through dance they
grow to like and then love each other.
They are surrounded by fine
supporting performances as their friends. R&B singer/hip hop artist
Mario ("Let Me Love You," "Just A Friend 2002") stretches to play an R&B
singer and hip hop artist. Drew Sidora almost makes up for appearing
in White Chicks playing Dewan's beautiful and sassy best friend.
Damaine Radcliff is Tyler's old hood friend (and very bad influence) who
feels he is being left behind now that Tyler is in amongst the rich kids.
Besides, how many movies in
history will be able to say that they had supporting roles by both Rachel
Griffiths (Six Feet Under) and Heavy D (the 80's rapper most
remembered for "Now That We've Found Love"). Not that any of the
adults in this movie really matter for anything. They are just here to
look on in either disapproval or pride. They may as well be cardboard
The film is atmospherically
filmed in Baltimore – at least most of it – there was at least one scene
where an entire family was eating takeout from a Carl's Jr. restaurant even
though the closest restaurant in that chain is in Oklahoma, at least a two
day drive away.
Eventually we go through
arguments, fistfights, the requisite neighborhood shooting, several juggling
love interests and incredibly diverse parties – all leading to the big
dance performance which will change all of their lives.
is not the tiniest bit original and not a single thing in it will be a
surprise to anyone in the audience, but it is still a slick and fun genre
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: August 17, 2006.