Step Up - Review
Review by Jack Foley
TYLER Gage (Channing Tatum) is a defiant rebel from the wrong side of Baltimore’s tracks who’s forced to carry out some community service at an elite performing arts school after he’s been caught breaking in.
Nora (Jenna Dewan), meanwhile, is a privileged dancer who’s desperate to impress at the school’s all-important Senior Showcase.
Having spotted Tyler dancing in the college car park while hanging out with friends, she approaches him for help when her own dance partner is injured.
Before you can utter the phrase “dirty dancing”, the mis-matched couple are helping each other on and off the dancefloor, while learning some important life lessons as well.
Step Up marks the directorial debut of Anne Fletcher but while it shows plenty of energy and invention during its dazzling dance sequences, it comes to an abrupt halt whenever the music stops.
Everything about the movie conforms to a tried and tested formula for success, whether borrowing from the likes of Dirty Dancing and Footloose, or detouring into Boyz N The Hood-style gang culture.
Newcomers Tatum and Dewan provide an attractive couple and certainly know their dance routines well but they’re ill-served by a totally inept script from Duane (Save The Last Dance) Adler that seems content to merely trot out the cliches.
Tatum, for instance, is a mis-understood Eminem wannabe who must rise above a difficult upbringing to realise his potential and choose between the school and his homeboy friends.
While Dewan is a spoilt rich kid who has to learn to keep her ambition in check.
As a couple, they bicker, bond, split up and reunite as clinically as one of the film’s numerous dance routines.
Their friends, meanwhile, are a similarly stereotypical bunch who have to sort out their own adolescent relationships, petty prejudices and, in the case of Tatum’s homeboys, the local criminal element.
But there’s absolutely no prizes for guessing any of the outcomes given the telegraphed nature of each story arc.
What’s left is a hopelessly frustrating affair – a dance drama that impresses whenever its actors keep moving but which keeps tripping over itself whenever they’re given anything to say.
Running time: 104mins