Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Step Up 3D

Directed by Jon Chu.
2010. Rated PG-13, 107 minutes.
Rick Malambri
Adam G. Sevani
Sharnie Vinson
Alyson Stoner
Keith Stallworth
Kendra Andrews
Stephen Boss
Daniel “Cloud” Campos
Facando Lombard
Martin Lombard

Approximately one minute after his parents drop him off on campus at NYU, Moose (Sevani) accidentally finds himself in a heated dance battle. The very next minute he meets Luke (Malambri), the pied piper of homeless dancers. In another minute, he’s hanging out at “The Vault”, Luke’s club/flophouse for said homeless dancers. Within this short amount of time, Moose has also pissed off his best friend, hardly goes to class and skips out early when he does.

There are bigger fish to fry than Moose’s lack of academic focus. “The Vault” is in trouble. Luke is five months behind in his payments. The club portion isn’t bringing in much money and none of the free-loading booty shakers has a job. But hey, this is a dance movie. That means there’s a huge dance competition coming up where the winning crew will earn enough money to catch up on the mortgage and pay it forward a couple years…um…if they win. Hmmm…if you’re old enough you’ll notice this plot is ripped straight from Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo and about two dozen other movies that followed it.

Anyhoo, you have to wonder if there weren’t so much expensive stuff in “The Vault”, maybe they wouldn’t be in such trouble. I’m talking about in the flophouse part, not the club part. There’s multiple high-end computers, outfitted with the latest film-editing software, the camera that surely cost a few grand, specially designed rooms to learn all those wicked moves without breaking your neck. I haven’t even mentioned the wall of boom-boxes, yet. Oops. We’re talking hundreds of them. Nevermind the seeming impossibility of them all being hooked up to a single receiver, though. It looks cool, cuz well…this is a dance movie.

Since this is a dance movie…ahem…a street dance movie, that means there’s a battle lurking around every corner. It’s serious business, too. Poor Moose can’t even take a leak without some clown barreling through the restroom door and challenging him to bust a move. Can you let the guy give it a shake and zip up, first? Well, this clown and his buddies who also come into the bathroom are “The Samurai”, the arch-rivals of Luke and the homeless bunch…er…”The Pirates”. Hey, there’s gotta be some villains for our heroes to go against in the finals of the big contest, right?

This third installment of the Step Up franchise takes a disturbing about-face in philosophy from its predecessors. The original is an okay flick. Step Up 2 The Streets is dreadful, arguably racist and has a ridiculous title. However, to the credit of both movies, they have a character using dance to help them get a better education. This takes the opposite approach. It sticks its middle finger up at academia whenever possible. I understand it wants to promote dance as a way of life, but the near criminalization of education is off-putting.

Ethics aside, SU3 suffers from the same thematic problems as SU2. The plot is lazily concocted. The dialogue is hokey at its very best and often cringe worthy. Wait until you find out what “b-fab” stands for and what it means. I may not be as young and cool as I once was, but I know when slang sounds phoney and unnatural. This does. The entire movie is unnatural, for that matter. It acts like it is part of this universe, but clearly is not. And why is this is 3D, anyway?

On the plus side is what fans of the franchise watch these movies for, anyway. The dancing is high energy, athletic and often spectacular. If you’re into dance flicks, this is right up your alley. If you want a genuinely good movie, this is not. Consider this perfectly on par with SU2. Decide accordingly.

MY SCORE: 3/10

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