On the outside, the recent movie Step Up seems like “just another dance movie” in the vein of Save the Last Dance, Center Stage, and Dirty Dancing. And for the most part, that’s a fairly accurate perception.
Step Up’s plot follows Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum), a foster kid from a rough part of Baltimore, and Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan), a well-off high school dancer who attends the prestigious Maryland School of the Arts. When Tyler finds himself in trouble after vandalizing the stage of the art school, he is ordered to perform 200 hours of community service for the school as a janitor. When Nora’s partner for her senior showcase (the key to her future in dancing) hurts his ankle, Tyler (an avid and talented street dancer) offers to step in. Nora finally agrees, and the plot takes off from there.
While there are a few twists and turns in the plot, the story is mostly predictable. Of course, the two main characters battle it out and end up falling in love. Of course, there is conflict with Nora’s boyfriend and with the previous dance partner.
Of course, it must be up to the last minute whether or not Nora’s senior showcase will actually come off. The one unexpected twist comes so out of the blue that it is mostly a detriment to the story’s progression instead of being the valid character motivation it wishes to be.
The dialogue also leaves much to be desired. Several scenes end up feeling very stiff and stilted because of the script. Also, the subplots tend to bog down the plot instead of adding to it. For instance, quite a few scenes are devoted to the romance between two other high school students where the leads don’t even show up.
However, Step Up is entertaining because of the dancing if nothing else. The juxtaposition of Tyler’s street dancing with Nora’s more formal dancing is well done-and the end combination is quite good (though the rehearsals in the movie do not resemble the final project). The movie is well populated with dance scenes, most of them entertaining. Also, the two leads are both dynamic. They definitely have a presence about them, and both are talented. And the extra dancers in the film also show a great deal of talent.
All in all, Step Up is the typical teen dance movie. It has its moments, but it is entertaining if for nothing else but the exceptional dancing.
Other cast members in the movie include Damaine Radcliff and De’Shawn Washington as Tyler’s best friend, Mac Carter, and Mac’s little brother, Skinny Carter, Mario as a art school kid Miles Darby who befriends Tyler, Drew Sidora as Nora’s best friend, and Rachel Griffiths as the director of the art school.