Jenna Dewan, Channing Tatum, Rachel Griffiths, Heavy D, Mario
Duane Adler, Melissa Rosenberg
|Think "Fame" without the excitement, drama, sex or emotions.
Think "Save the Last Dance" without the racial element or intrigue.
The sad reality is that, decent dance moves aside, a few minutes after you leave the theatre from "Step Up," you won't be thinking much about this feature film directing debut of Anne Fletcher.
"Step Up," seemingly seen hundreds of times in trailers during the last month, is the story of Nora (newcomer Jenna Dewan), a dance student facing her final recital when suddenly her partner suffers an injury.
What, oh what, will she do?
Enter bad-boy Tyler (Channing Tatum), a thug from the wrong side of the street. Tyler is acting as a school janitor as community service for his trashing of the dance school. Lo and behold, Tyler can dance!
The dance scenes alone make "Step Up" a watchable flick, and fans may remember Tatum as the hottie from "She's the Man" and as a former underwear model from the Abercrombie & Fitch model. Tatum and Dewan do have a nice chemistry, and their dance scenes are entertaining, electric and fun to watch.
Unfortunately, "Step Up" often gets bogged down when there's no dancing going on, and not even decent performances by Rachel Griffiths, as a stuffy principal along with R&B heartthrob Mario and former heavyweight rapper Heavy D can elevate this film above mediocrity.
Despite their strong dance chemistry, the simple fact is that neither Dewan nor Tatum are particularly versatile actors and they can't come close to pulling off the required depth to make this simple story remotely believable.
The script by Duane Adler and Melissa Rosenberg is filled with one cliche' after the other, and a remarkable number of "rah-rah" moments that bounce between forcibly manipulative and downright silly. Adler, who also penned the story for "Save the Last Dance," should know better and is clearly capable of better.
There's a definite fan base for this type of film, but it won't be those who demand a strong plot, decent acting and authentic dialogue. Fans of "Step Up" will be those who enjoy the minimalist dance flick that offers fantasy-like romanticism that doesn't necessarily make sense BUT is still, well, a fantasy.
A strong soundtrack, terrific dance scenes and an overall positive vibe will make this a decent date flick for young romantics.
"Step Up?" Hmmmm. Nope, this film never really does. It sure does "get down," though.
|© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic