The “revolution” aspect was what intrigued me most.
Look, I understand that these Step Up movies are exactly what they are. It’s a fairly obvious formula where the filmmakers are expected to plug in the boy from the wrong side of the tracks alongside the hoity-toity rich girl and then try to stay the hell out of the way for the dance numbers. So imagine my surprise and delight when this fourth installment, which up until recently was titled Step Up: Miami Heat, unleashed a revised advertising campaign touting nothing less than a revolution. The gobsmacking trailer looked like Che, except with crumping.
Alas, what I got was indeed a fairly obvious formula where the filmmakers plug in the boy from the wrong side of the tracks (a squeaky clean waiter played by cardboard Ryan Guzman) and a hoity-toity rich-girl (So You Think You Can Dance finalist Kathryn McCormick) and then proceed to digitally muck with and hyperactively over-edit the 3-D dance numbers to the point of spatial incoherence and advanced retinal trauma.
The first time they meet, these two crazy kids throw sand at each other in slow motion, which is at least preferable to hearing them attempt at reciting dialogue. Turns out our hero is the leader of a flash-mob creatively called The Mob, and they’re staging crazy, elaborate performances all over Miami to try and win a YouTube contest. But there’s a sinister real estate developer (Is there any other kind?) played by Peter Gallagher, who wants to tear down their “ethnic” neighborhood and put up skyscrapers. He also happens to be our heroine’s father, and would you be surprised if he just doesn’t understand these sexy newfangled dances all the kids are doing these days?
So when The Mob (Really? That’s the best they could come up with?) finally unites for a cause, it’s really more inspired by Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo than Occupy Whatever, and the ubiquitous product placements tend to undercut the anti-corporate speechifying. It’s to be noted, though, with some relief, that Gallagher was kind enough to trim his eyebrows for the benefit of audiences watching in 3-D.
Neil Barsky’s "Koch" Keeps It Light