Directed by Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern

C

For a while it seemed that the popularity of reality television had been a boon for the documentary film industryremoving that old oat-bran stigma associated with nonfiction filmmaking by introducing folks who normally wouldnt be caught dead at a doc to the radical notion that real-life people can be just as interesting (if not more so) than movie stars.

But now reality TVs worst tendencies are creeping into movie theaters. It started with last years odious American Teen, a film so dishonestly edited, over-dubbed and brazenly manipulative that it played like an episode of The Hills guest-starring ugly kids.

Now comes Every Little Step, which purports to part the curtains and take us backstage for the recent Broadway revival of A Chorus Line, and yet the movie trivializes the entire processtreating a series of complicated artistic decisions like the season finale of Dancing With the Stars.

After a bit of early interesting archival footage chronicling the late-night improvisation sessions from which the late Michael Bennett culled the original 1975 production, Every Little Step pirouettes straight into the revivals casting process. Veteran choreographer Bob Avian serves as a toothless Simon Cowell, overseeing an open casting call for which more than 3,000 aspiring young talents danced their hearts out, but also found time to preen for co-directors Adam Del Deo and James Sterns camera with maximum disingenuousness.

Why A Chorus Line? Why now? When staging a revival, must one aim to replicate the earlier production or approach the material a new angle? Depressingly enough, these questions dont just go unanswered, they arent even asked. Instead, Every Little Step focuses on shallow puff-piece profiles of our various contestantswhoops, I meant aspiring young professionalsmost of whom mug and telegraph every emotion as if playing to the back row of the Merriam. Elimination rounds ensue.

The first five minutes of Bob Fosses All That Jazz captured the anxiety, cruelty and camaraderie of the audition process with more grit and vigor than Every Little Step can muster at 20 times the length. Halfway through the film youll be scanning the screen for phone numbers and instructions on how to vote for your favorites.

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