Reviewed by: Susan Quirk
|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 »|
|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)