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Movie Review

Step Up

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for thematic elements, brief violence and innuendo

Reviewed by: Susan Quirk

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Drama, Music, Romance, Dance
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 11, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

Movie reviews: “Step Up 2 the Streets” (2008) and Step Up 3D (2010)

Dancing in the Bible

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Featuring: Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, Damaine Radcliff, De'Shawn Washington, Mario, Drew Sidora, Rachel Griffiths, Josh Henderson, Tim Lacatena, Alyson Stoner, Heavy D, Deirdre Lovejoy, Jane Beard, Richard Pelzman, See all »
Director: Anne Fletcher
Producer: Bob Hayward, David Garrett, John Starke
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

“Every second chance begins with a first step.”

To rise above low expectations growing up in inner city Baltimore one is forced to “Step Up”. This is the surprisingly positive message of the dance movie “Step Up” which in fact turns out to be a step up above the typical film aimed at teens.

Tyler (Channing Tatum) is a going nowhere fast foster kid with a penchant for stealing cars and vandalizing property in his spare time. When Tyler and his soul brother, Mac (Damaine Radcliff) and Mac’s little brother, Skinny (De’Shawn Washington) trash the theatre department at Maryland’s School for the Arts, Tyler alone is caught and sentenced to two hundred hours of community service as a janitor at the prestigious art school. Tyler, a street dance prodigy shortly catches the eye of Maryland’s classically trained dancer, Nora (Jenna Dewan). When Nora’s partner for the upcoming dance showcase is injured, Tyler reluctantly agrees to fill in. Although dance takes first position in this film, the thin and predictable plot is fleshed out with the strong character development of Tyler and his crew.

Tyler is a loyal friend to Mac and Skinny, but this faithfulness initially spells out into mentoring pre-teen Skinny in the ways of the “hood”—partying, clubbing, and general lawlessness. All the boys come from broken or dysfunctional homes where making ends meet takes preeminence. The low self-esteem and hopelessness of the boys is summed up by Tyler when he tells Nora “It’s better not to want anything.”

From the opening credits to the showcase finale, the artistry of hip hop, jazz, ballet and a eclectic mixture of many influences are preformed throughout the film. Tyler has a dance style that is heavy on masculinity and strength so scenes with Nora teaching Tyler ballet technique and control add humor and charm. The power of dance is presented in an opening scene in a club where Tyler is sensuously freak dancing with the girlfriend of a rival gang member. The boyfriend does not buy the “we were only dancing” argument as well, he shouldn’t. Intimate dancing equals intimacy. The varying motivations of dance are revealed in the Bible when King David danced with all his might before the Lord (2 Samuel 16:14), but also in the likely seductive dance of Salome before Herod prior to the beheading of John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29a).

Dance is the metaphor for change and action in “Step Up” and most of the dance scenes, although edgy, are filled with energetic, creative, and celebratory dancing that is a joy to watch.

The movie does contain some skimpy clothing, dance clubs with alcohol, a gang related shooting, several instances of the Lord’s name taken in vain, and an innuendo about a guy “playing with himself,” but overall the profanity and violence is minimal for a movie with a PG-13 rating.

Positive messages of interracial friendship are portrayed, and Tyler’s eventual romance with Nora is played out with sweet elements of a slow moving courtship. Beyond a passionate kiss, no indication of a physical relationship is referred to or implicated. Adults in authority and parents are shown to be caring and wise, and failure to adhere to their advice creates a tragic consequence. Both Tyler and Mac share tender moments illustrating loving relationships with their siblings.

If you enjoy dance and are not opposed to some hip hop music mixed with classical vibes, “Step Up” is a good film for parents and teens to find some common ground to tap their feet to.

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None

See review page on the sequel to this film: “Step Up 2 the Streets” (2008)

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—…really enjoyed it. Compared to the movies out there, this one is pretty good in terms of sexuality. It is a sweet movie, good acting, plus the music and dancing are awesome!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
E.S., age 48
Positive—I have to say that I’m cautiously positive about “Step Up.” Cautious—because in the style of “Dangerous Minds” and “Take the Lead,” there is violence, profanity, sexually provocative clothing styles and innuendo from beginning to end. I’m encouraged, however, because those morally objectionable issues would have been more prevalent in real life than were portrayed in the film. I appreciate the film makers for presenting a realistic movie without the barrage of filth that some seem intent on putting us through. And thank you for giving us a hero that, though he isn’t perfect, sacrifices for his friends and dedicates himself to doing what is right.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
Bob Rossiter, age 46
Positive—I also loved this movie! I saw it with some of my friends and we were suprised at how few curse words there were. I do agree that the clothing worn at times was not appropriate and one or two dance scenes were pretty sensual, but as far as it’s overall morality, I was pleasantly suprised that the movie had such a strong positive moral theme, dealt with some very serious issues, and still managed to keep it pretty clean. Don’t take your 8 year old to see this, but for middle/high school kids, this is a great movie to show them that they don’t have to give in to the pressures around them and that no matter what you’ve done in the past, there is still hope.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
Robyn, age 19
Positive—One of the few new adult releases I have thoroughly enjoyed since becoming a Christian a few years back. (Finally something to replace old favourites like “Dirty Dancing” and “Grease” that make me wince now! Much restraint used by the film-makers in raising many adult/teen issues without going into unnecessary graphic detail. As the protective older sister of a 12 year old, I’d be happy for her to watch, it but only with friends 11+. Makes you want to dance.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
MJ, age 27
Negative—I found this movie offensive. No one has hardly made mention of a man “dancing behind a woman” with out being able to even place a piece of paper between them as he thrusts his hip area toward her in rapid succession. Looked like an orgie to me. The dancers’ out fits were enough to make the males I was with comment on the lack there of, and the main characters are chauvinistic and lack any sense of humility. Too much of the “I’m better than you” attitude.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
T. S., age 25
Comments from non-viewers
I’m sorry but the picture on the front of video says it for me. That is sensual enough. The Bible says that women ought to dress modestly. The picture while dancing is provocative, too. I have seven children, and this not the lifestyle that I would want to encourage my children to live. If in doubt, ask yourself 'would Jesus watch this?' 'Be ye holy for I am holy saith the Lord.'
My Ratings: Offensive / 3
Terri, age 50
I cannot comment on the quality of the filmmaking, because I have not seen the movie, and I am going strictly on your review I’ve read about it. …Any movie that takes the LORD’s name in vain is extremely offensive to me and should be to all Christians. This is one thing that is so hard to teach your children especially in a world that seems to be numb at hearing it used all the time in such vulgar ways. Exodus 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” I believe this pertains to any and all misuse of it, movies and otherwise. …
Laurie Harms, age 49
Comments from young people
Positive—I saw the movie, and I loved it. There was only some foul language; it wasn’t terrible. There was no f-word. There was also some immodest dressing. but most of the time they were dancing. It was so good. Kids under 10 shouldn’t see it, just because there is some violence.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Lauren, age 14
Positive—I loved this movie. They did a great job of steering away from any sexual activity. All there is is some kissing. The dancing is very creative and fun to watch. There is a little violence in it, so I recommend this movie for teens and up, but it is a great movie, and it has a great moral because the main character had a bad life (stealing cars, going to bad parties) but his life is turned around. I definitely recommend this movie. It’s great!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Hallie, age 15
Positive—I loved everything about this movie. There’s no sex, like 3 swear words, and the dancing wasn’t barely even objectionable. The acting was really good, and I wasn’t bored throughout the entire film. I’d recommend this movie to anyone, except maybe smaller children due to a short scene of violence. Awesome!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Brittany, age 16
Positive—I really liked this movie a lot. I would have to say it’s one of my favorites. There was very seldom offensive material. It had some really good messages, and had everything you would want in a movie. I would definitly recommend it. Overall, this was a really fun and entertaing movie, that was extremely enjoyable to watch.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Kristen, age 14
Positive—I absolutely loved it!! The dancing was fantastic! It made me want to jump up out of my seat and start dancing right in the movie theater. Plus, the little romantic fling was very sweet. …it shows that you can have a special relationship with someone of the opposite sex and it not be focused on all the physical aspects. I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can buy it!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Elligrace, age 14
Positive—I thought this was a great movie! It had a good message, and I definitely thought it was a step above the rest. The dancing is entertaining and characters of loveable. There is some violence, language, and perhaps overexposed skin, but I believe it all to be in moderation. The film shows the real teen life, and even the consequences of certain lifestyles, something that most teen movies never offer. In certain aspects it did remind me of “Save the Last Dance,” but I think it was much better. The film focuses on a character trying to define what life should really be about, and by the end of the film you feel like everything fell into place. I hope to see more films like this one!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Nay, age 15
Positive—I do find this movie very enjoyable. There is one part where someone is shot, and he is a main character. This movie also makes it look like stealing cars is okay, when …it’s not. There is some bad words, but not extremely bad words. I am a strong Catholic and think this movie is okay for kids 12 and up, and some 11 year olds. Enjoy the movie.
My Ratings: Average / 4
Deanne, age 12
Positive— A very good movie, it has a great moral and the dancing was amazing!!! …The movie made me want to go out somewhere and just start dancing. It has some foul words in it, so I would not recommed it to kids under 9. And the reason, I think, for the questionable clothing is because they’re going to be dancing for almost 24 hours, so the clothing is short cut sometimes or a little to low because they’re going to sweat. But besides those small issues, it was a GREAT flim!!! …Go see it.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Angel, age 11
Positive—I saw this movie with my friends and thought it was really good! It had some bad language and a little violence, but overall it was good. I really love this movie. The dancing was great. I was dancing in my seat! I thought this was an excellent movie. I think this is for kids 12 + up.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Meghan, age 13
Positive—I saw this movie with some friends of mine, and we all came to the same conclusion, we LOVED it! The story line is good, and the dancing is awesome. There isn’t too much profanity, some S*** words, but it’s not too bad. and there is basically no sexual content at all! There is a scene of violence that might be a little disturbing to some young viewers, so I don’t recommend it for kids under age 10. Overall, I thought this movie was very enjoyable, and I liked it a LOT!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Angie, age 15
Positive—This movie was amazing, I never thought it was be as good as it was. There were some suggestive elements in it, such as the older brother teaching the younger brother how to break into a car. In the end though, it portrayed that anyone, no matter where you come from or what your past looks like, can turn their life around. This movie was truly touching!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Tori Bliss, age 13
Positive—I enjoyed this movie extremely! I had many good morals such as: 1. Mistakes you make can hurt those around you / 2. You shouldn’t be a quitter / 3. You can be punished for the things you do wrong / Those are the major ones I found. After one of the brothers lost his little brother because he was being a bad role model, he decided that he wanted to try to do better and to be a better person. The picture on the front makes it look a little inappropriate, but it is very good. There is really no dirty dancing or sexual references. I think that this is very good. I saw it twice already in theatres.
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Emily, age 13
Positive—I absolutely LOVE this movie! It was so cool, I never looked away from the screen. I’m in a HipHop class, and I love HipHop. It was really cool the way the film combined both Ballet and HipHop. The dances were all really cool, only mildly suggestive. The lyrics to some of the songs weren’t the best, but it’s not that bad. There weren’t many swear words, and it wasn’t scary at all, just sad at a few parts. So go see it, it rocks!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Emily, age 12
Positive—I went to see this movie with a few friends from Youth Group, and it was nice being able to see a movie made for people in our age group (16-18) and not see anything we didn’t want to! Everyone I talked to who saw it was like, “Yeah, I’ve seen it twice already…” or whatever—you couldn’t just see it once! I really was appreciative that someone was willing to step up and make a teen-geared movie that doesn’t have any sex or profanity! You don’t have to have dumb stuff like that for a movie to be EXCELLENT!!! I hope people make more movies like this in the future!!…
My Ratings: Good / 5
Sarah, age 17
Positive—I think this film was outstanding!!! It had awesome dancing in it (being a dancer myself I know)! This has just a tiny bit of bad language, but most teenagers and adults can handle it! There was great scenes and good acting. If only the clubs were a bit less sexual!! I loved the movie—it was an unexpected ending and had a nice script overall! A GOOD WATCH!!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 3½
Kayla McNair, age 13
Positive—I really enjoyed this movie! It was very inspiring! I am a dancer and this movie inspired me to pursue my goals as a dancer and to do everything unto the Lord with all that I am! I definitely recommend this movie to kids 15 and up. You will love it!!!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
Sarah, age 14
Positive—This movie was great! The only thing that could be offensive is the clothing and even that was not really bad. I really recomend this movie to any one 8 and over, it makes you want to dance!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
Zoe, age 13
Positive—When I saw previews for this movie I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see it, because I expected there to be some questionable scenes, but when my best friend who is also a spirit-filled Vhristian told me that it was one of the best movies she’d ever seen and that there were no scenes that offended her as a Christian, I was convinced to go and see it. I saw it and immediately loved it. it is a great movie with an even greater message, no matter what kind of life you have you always have a chance to make it better. I reccomend everyone to see this movie, its got great dancing, incredible actors/actresses, and an awesome story. …
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
Kt Clem, age 13
Positive—In reply to people’s comments about the dancing and the clothing and the pictures being too provacative for their children, it all depends on how your children were raised and what things they think of when they see something like that. And for me, being a dancer myself, compared to everything else that is out there, the dancing in this movie was phenomenally clean.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
Britney, age 18