Movie Review: 'Step Up'
The pieces are all familiar. Muscular street-trained dancer (
But the question with movies like this isn't really if the
There's no denying that Dewan and Tatum are both athletic and fairly graceful onscreen. She looks fantastic in a leotard and he looks burly in a wife-beater, so that's nearly enough. Tatum has ample agility, but he's obviously untrained and no matter how much his character gets schooled on more formal dancing, he never meshes in any of the dance numbers. The stars blend decently when they're flailing their limbs, but when they're faced with the horribly earnest dialogue written by Duane Adler ("Save the Last Dance") and Melissa Rosenberg (
But again, first-time director (and veteran choreographer) Anne Fletcher keeps the beats pumping and the stars casually dressed. Plus, she spends as much time as possible in medium shots so that audiences can be assured that if they're enjoying the dancing -- stylistically somewhere between street and ballet without declaring an actual distinctive personality -- that's being done by the actors themselves, rather than "Flashdance"-style stunt feet.
There's a little bit of political and social commentary on the side. Tatum's character is a foster child and his relationship with his obviously unrelated foster sister (Alyson) is one of the movie's only points of effect sentiment. The movie also benefits from the decision to shoot on location in Baltimore, which gives the outside scenes a dash of grit. That edge could have been increased by casting some of the talented young stars of "The Wire." The only veteran of that superior HBO Baltimore-set drama to appear in "Step Up" is
Nobody is expecting the same level of urban realism for a cheesy dance movie as for HBO's finest series. And I understand that I'm just not part of the target audience for "Step Up." I only wish I'd spent less time in the theater giggling at the ridiculousness of the whole endeavor.