Step Up

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: +1/2

Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan. Featuring the directorial debut of leading choreographer Anne Fletcher, the film also stars R&B superstar Mario, Drew Sidora as well as rap legend Heavy D, Damaine Radcliff, DeShawn Washington and Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Rachel Griffiths.

Tyler Gage (Tatum) is a rebel from the wrong side of Baltimores tracks. Living with uncaring foster parents and leaning toward a life of crime, he feels trapped, unable to even dream, let alone visualize those dreams coming true. Nora (Dewan) is a privileged ballet dancer attending Baltimores ultra-elite Maryland School of the Arts and the only thing standing in the way of her future is finding a great dance partner for her senior showcase. When trouble with the law lands Tyler with a community service gig at Maryland School of the Arts, he arrives as an angry outsider, until his skills as a gifted street dancer draw Noras attention. Now, as sparks fly between them on and off stage, Tyler realizes he has just one performance to prove that he can step up to a life far larger then he ever imagined.

There are some positive messages aimed at urban young men concerning not being afraid to dream and going after those dreams. The film steers clear of much objectionable content prevalent in most movies aimed at the youth market, and Ms. Dewan is a work of art. Her parents did a fine job in constructing the young lady, and she evidently works diligently at completing the work they began. Simply said, its a pleasure looking at her. Well, thats it for the pleasantries.

The tale is set around high school aged kids, 16, 17 year-olds. Had the cast actually been that age, the story would have been more poignant, as thats the age these kids should be learning the plot lessons. Each of the cast, however, appears to be 24 on up. It looks silly for the male lead, a hulking white guy whose character desperately wants to be a hipster black guy, to be in scenes where hes still living in a foster home. He looked like he should be the father.

Throughout the film, Mr. Tatum, the attitude-fueled Hollywood male of the month, wears a ball cap with the bill sideways, ala Jerry Lewis as the not so bright buffoon in all Martin & Lewis comedies. This guy even wears jeans with the seat that nearly drags the ground. (Is that fashion never to be replaced?) And then he dances. Once again, Im reminded of Jerry Lewis. The difference? Jerry played a sideways-ball-cap-wearing dunce who moved as if klutziness was an art form in order to make us laugh. Mr. Tatum makes you laugh because of ineptitude. Hes a good-looking guy and Im sure a fine actor, but Im not quite sure why he was cast in this part. Hes too old for the role and his dancing moves are amateurish and unschooled. (Why would she choose him to be her partner? She spends most of the time perfecting his choreography, not her own.)

Overall, the dancing is unspectacular, choreographed with little skill and photographed with less. The acting is poor, the humor fledgling, and the dialogue unmemorable. But to suggest that todays youth view Fred Astaire (Silk Stockings), Gene Kelly (American in Paris), or even Michael Flatly (Riverdance), would be perceived as unrelatable. So, go, enjoy, and never mind that youre ingesting fast food rather than a gourmet meal. At least youll have Ms. Dewan to look at.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: one crude joke

Obscene Language: 4 or 5 uses of the s-word and a couple minor expletives (damns and hells).

Profanity: Other than two uses of the colloquialism Oh my god I caught none.

Violence: A brief fight; a young car thief is gunned down; graphic motorcycle accident. Blood: There is some blood after a youth is gunned down.

Sex: Other than kissing, there are no sexual scenes. That said, there is some sensuality as young women are seen in clubs and dancing provocatively in revealing attire.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: The foster father is seen drinking.

Other: The male lead and his buddies are seen stealing cars and driving them to chop shops. But they learn life lessons and realize that this lifestyle is wrong.

Running Time: 96 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Adults

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