But now many times can you squeeze the same story into a different setting before it becomes a bit of a yawn?
Step Up, though not exactly hopeless, relies too heavily on its genre. Dialogue is often sloppy and unnatural to the point of being preachy. The dancing is decent, but it's more flashy than deeply moving, and there's better breakdancing at our own Hip Hop Indaba than anything Tatum lumbers though. Kisses against the sunset and moral epiphanies on basketball courts are a bit too patronising even for a teen romance.
Yet the movie remains watchable, even enjoyable, for one main reason: the great costumes. Every kid at the school appears to be dressed by boutiques, and the alluring outfits of the female leads make for great scenery, especially if you're into Jenna Dewam's 80s flavoured poodle appeal. She always seems to have just the right lip colour on.
Speaking of colour, this is a hip-hop / urban flavoured movie, the operative word being "flavoured". Black characters are secondary to the white leads. Despite the setting in the ‘hood, the bad-boy-makes-good theme and so on, any references to black culture are merely sauce for the white chicken. The casting feels like a decision taken by cowardly producers, who just didn't want to cast a multiracial movie in the USA.
For a movie about missed and taken opportunities, Step Up misses quite a few opportunities itself, but stops just short being bad enough to miss on video. Rent it for the dancing, but don’t expect to be dazzled.
- Jean Barker
"Every second chance begins with a first step" is the slug line for this Footloose 'n the ‘hood starring mainly white people. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
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