With a deep breath and high hopes I set out to watch the latest urban “find yourself” movie with a dance/rap backdrop — Step Up 2 the Streets. Why? I’m an optimist and a dreamer, and I firmly believe some day a movie like this will actually be worth the price of an admission ticket. At the current rate though, I suspect I’ll be dust in the wind before that ever truly happens.
Maybe it’s because I simply expect too much from these mindless movies to look past the fact that they’re meant to be mindless movies. Step Up 2 the Streets is, much to my chagrin, basically more of the same Hollywood philosophy, movies like Feel the Noise and Stomp The Yard have been a part of.
So as you can expect, the storyline pretty much follows the same trajectory as the aforementioned movies. This time, instead of misguided boys, we’ve got a misguided girl from the mean streets of Baltimore. Andie (Briana Evigan) whiles her days away performing with the infamous street dance crew 410, and going against her foster mother’s wishes. When her crew’s latest stunt, a hot dance sequence in a subway, is labeled a public menace (or some other shit), she’s given one last chance: get accepted into the Maryland School of the Arts (MSA) or get shipped off to live with her grandmother in Texas. Alas, once she is accepted (you think she wouldn’t have been?), she finds herself torn between her roots on the streets and the new privileged hallways that offer her a better life.
But here is where Step Up 2 the Streets veers slightly off the beaten path and sets off in a new direction. Instead of Andie purposely making a mess of things and rebelling further, she actually tries to stay on the course (much to the horror of her neighborhood friends). It turns out that her wealthy peers at MSA are more interested in her maintaining her urban flows than she is. So much so, that heartthrob Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman) and resident dork Moose (Adam G. Sevani) convince her to form a crew of their own to compete for street credibility at the underground dance competition “The Streets”. Along the way, they learn about sacrifice and how to stand up and fight for what really matters – even if it costs them everything near and dear to them. But let’s face it, no one cares about the quasi-uplifting message. People came to see crazy-ass dance moves and sexy girls with bare midriffs.
And on these two pillars Step Up 2 the Streets nearly delivers everything as expected. The dance moves are sick. What some of these dance crews do is nothing short of stupefying. Bodies are not meant to contort in such ways nor should they be able to keep the beat when they’re twisted and all bent to hell. I give all the credit in the world to the guys and gals who can do this and make it look good. On the other hand, I was a bit let down in the sexy girl department though. The movie poster and trailer gave the impression that there was going to be some tantalizing eye candy on screen. There isn’t. Aside from Briana, there was but one other girl who caught my eye (Cassie Ventura) and she wasn’t given nearly enough screen time.
In conclusion, I’ll have to say that, while Step Up 2 the Streets isn’t exactly an earth shattering film (actually, it’s not even close), it is marginally better than the other movies of its kind I reviewed last year. I know that doesn’t mean a damn thing to anyone, since the people who like these kinds of movies are going to see it no matter what I say, and those that have no interest in this kind of movie won’t see it no matter what I say. Such are the problems of a critic . . .