(Originally written on 2/18/08)
"Step Up" has taught me a number of things. One of them is that people go retarded for dance movies. I blame the 80's. Sure, there were disco movies, but when disco died, so should've the movies. But NOOO! Instead we're introduced to break dancing and we get "Breakin'" and who can forget "Breakin' 2":....umm....some subtitle...gee how weird that I forgot it.
Anyway, now we're in a new millennium and when you make a dance movie for the new millennium, it's going to be break dance ver. 2.0. First we get "You Got Served", then "Stomp The Yard", and now we have Step Up, which is innovative cause they broke the "Verb The Noun" thing other dance movies had going.
Now that "Step Up 2 The Streets" is presently THE NUMBER 3 MOVIE in America (as of this writing, by next week it'll be in video stores), it's time for me to re-visit this great classic. But enough about "Short Circuit", let's talk about "Step Up".
I've gave Step Up and it's sequel way-y-y more publicity then it deserves at all because I found the "official" Myspace profile for both movies. On said profile, I found a contest where YOU can make a video of yourself dancing like a retard for 2 minutes, send it in, and they play your video during the ending credits. I did such a thing. I don't know (yet) if I ever made it into the movie but I wouldn't be surprised if I did.
The second thing I learned: Never name your kid Channing.
We start off with us doing a compare and contrast of the different dancing styles we'll be facing in this movie. We switch from ballet dancers to homeboyz doing hip hop break dancing moves in some parking garage. When we see the ballet dancers, we see a guy totally fondling his female dance partner, with a look on his face like "Ohhh yeah, this is why I do this..." Course he can't get too excited, it's hard to hide a hard-on with tights. Trust me, I know. (Don't ask.)
After we learn that the choreographer is also the director (or the director is also the choreographer, whichever is less scary), we focus on our "homeboyz", Tyler Gage (Yes, this is suppose to be his real name, played by one CHANNING Tatum), Mac and Mac's little annoying brother Skinny. It's unclear if Skinny is his real name or not. Tyler is doing some dance moves in a basement at a party with a hot black chick and a ugly black dude is like "Don't best be steppin' up to my girl, yo" which is probably what the damn title means and now I really hate life.
Tyler and dude fight until dude pulls out a gun, cause there's no enforcing stereotypes in a movie like this. Tyler, Mac, and Skinny run out of the party and now they're in the streets. While goofing around, Tyler throws some garbage at a window, breaking it. They go check it out and Skinny more or less decides to break in. I should note that Tyler didn't wanna go into the school but Skinny and Mac made him.
They find out that the school is called The Maryland School of Arts and they're like "Wow, rich white people have it made". I guess, but if I was rich and 100% white, I wouldn't be caught dead in a place like that. Anyway, they start messing around inside the school and they do some light vandalism, which they seem ok with this. But little do they know that rich white people are paranoid and hire round the clock security guards, one of which catches them.
Skinny busts out of there while the guard has Mac. But Tyler, realizing that the law is gonna be tough on a brotha, decides to take the pinch instead, while Mac runs out. Well, he didn't run so much as skipped out, like there was no big hurry. And he was right. The guard didn't seem to bother to tell the police there were two other people in the school and instead all the blame goes on Tyler.
Tyler goes to court and is given 200 hours of community to perform at the school, which for once makes sense. I mean he basically has to clean up the mess he made, right? Why can't all judges do stuff like this? Anyway, we get a small glimpse into Tyler's life and we find that he's adopted and lives with two other adopted kids, a drunk foster dad and a super nice foster Mom, who bailed him out, despite having to work two jobs. I dunno though, if you have to work two jobs, why would you adopt THREE kids?
On the first day of community service, Tyler shows up at the school and they want to show us that he doesn't not belong by having him just slouch around the school looking all "WTF" like at everything. He finds his way to the headmaster's office and holy shit, she's hot.
The headmaster introduces Tyler to the head janitor who just simply hands him a mop and a bucket. Tyler is standing there like "Buh??" Then next scene he's immediately in a blue jumpsuit and is cleaning around the place. He roams by a dance hall where all the hot dance girls are like "Whoa, who's the new guy?" and we're introduced to Nora, the girl who is TOTALLY NOT gonna fall for Tyler because he's from the other side of the tracks! He's a convict! He trashed the place for fuck sakes!! She is disgusted with him!! So get the thought out of your mind right now. Plus she has a boyfriend anyway, who is probably secretly gay. Just a hunch.
Tyler is outside taking the trash out when Mac and Skinny show up. Even though Tyler went to jail for them, they still make fun of him, but Tyler whatevers it cause guys named Channing who's main thing is break dancing can't act. Or talk for that manner. Tyler mumbles everything like all he wants to do is dance, screw all this "boring talking" shit.
Back in the school, we learn that there's some kind of showcase thing going on and Nora's in charge of it. Of course there is. I mean, we need SOME kind of conflict, right? And it's a dance movie, so the conflict has to revolve around dancing. There are some friend's of Nora in this scene but frankly, I didn't catch their names and I really don't care.
Well, the next scene involves Tyler dancing outside while Nora watches and this goes on for awhile. Maybe I'll do some research while this is going on.
Ok so the hot black chick's name is Lucy and she's dating some "older" guy named Colin. Like Colin Farrell? I'm guessing these girls are underage but they sure don't look or sound like it. Ok, now that my research is done, let me see what's going on in the movie.
More dancing. What a surprise. But Tyler caught Nora staring at him, so that might be something. Honestly, why am I mentioning all this subplot stuff, it don't figure into the main story, so whatever. Lucy is banging an older guy, let's just move on.
Back to this showcase plot, Nora's boyfriend/dance partner Andrew broke his leg, so now Nora needs someone to rehearse with until Andrew's leg is all better. Hmmm I wonder who she's gonna pick....
I know I said I wasn't gonna mention the subplot stuff but I gotta complain about this. We get a montage of the work Tyler is doing and how it's impossible for him to do it with all the kids there, like they walk over his wet floor and they get in his way while vacuuming. What I don't get is, couldn't he just do this like later when everyone's gone?
Anyway, Nora holds auditions to find someone to replace Andrew and well, no one seems to work out. That is until Tyler is like "Hey can I grope you for awhile" and Nora is like "Sure" and sure enough he's perfect for the job.
And...more dancing. Except Nora's boyfriend Brett comes in...wait. I thought Andrew was her boyfriend? Is she...seeing two guys? Now I'm confused. Anyway, we learn Brett is an asshole. She should stick with Andrew, but I'm willing to bet Andrew is the "nice guy" who "cares about her feelings" and "does stuff for her". Why do women want THAT anyway? No, they need assholes in their lives!! DAMMIT!!!
Man, see what this movie is doing to me.
Subplot includes Heavy D running a chop shop and telling Tyler, Mac, and Skinny to bring an Escalade. And Tyler thinking the dancing Nora's doing is boring.
We get a montage of Tyler and Nora dancing, with Tyler trying to incorporate more break dancing into the routine while we listen to the official theme from Step Up!
Somewhere down the road after some dancing and other subplot stuff, Tyler shows up late to the rehearsal and there are other dancers in the studio. He finds Nora in Brett's recording studio recording a song that totally isn't his and Brett acts like an asshole some more while Tyler is confused about why he's late and why it means they can't practice.
The next day, Tyler doesn't show up at all and Nora finds him outside cleaning. He says he quits and just walks away. I'm not sure why, but I'm guessing this is to teach her a lesson about...him being late? I hate this movie.
And to hate it even more, Tyler changes his mind in the next scene so the whole quitting thing is pointless. Nora is all pissed off and doesn't trust him anymore so Tyler is begging and Nora accepts if he take a ballet class....with a bunch of little girls. I guess this is suppose to be funny but it comes off as creepy, especially since this guy is suppose to be a criminal. But this does earn Nora's trust somehow and they're friends again and they're partners again.
While talking on some secret rooftop that Nora likes to go, she tells Tyler that she wants her showcase to feature more dancers and he's like "um...get some then" and I'm like "Yeah, duh!" So the next day, Tyler rounded up some more dancers and everybody is happy. Yay!!
Well except Mac and Skinny. They're pissed off that Tyler is always ditching them to run off to this dance school. And it was at this point that I realized all these characters are still in high school. Damn, when I was in high school I barely had time to do my homework, these people have time to do homework, dance, make out, climb rooftops, steal cars, and play basketball.
Another minor subplot with Brett proving he's still an asshole but I swear to you it's really not important and in fact Brett isn't seen again from this point so why even bother, movie? Tyler marches up to the hot headmaster and confesses his undying love to her. Ok, no. He thought about it and wants to be a student at the school. But Hot Headmaster tells him it's not gonna happen cause he's a hapless loser who likes to quit everything and he turns emo, but only for a moment cause remember he's big and bad and tough or whatever.
Guess what? More dancing. But this time...we get singing also!! No, Tyler doesn't sing, thank god. I think I would just kill myself if he did. No, it's Lucy's boyfriend Colin (AKA the pedo) who's doing the singing. It's basically your typical big party dance scene in every dance movie where everyone dances and they do a battle of the sexes thing and whatever and ever.
While they're dancing, I gotta ask. I find it kinda impossible they can dance in these baggy clothes, I mean wouldn't they be getting tripped up? Granted I'm not a dancer, well a professional one anyway, so what do I know?
Oh hey, whatta ya know? Colin is a cheater and Nora and Tyler are FINALLY dating or kissing or whatever you wanna call it. The next day, we get a touching scene where Tyler and his foster sister are dancing in their backyard.
After a montage of Tyler and Nora obviously not fuckin', Tyler's over at Nora's house where he meets her uptight Mom. It's a rather uncomfortable scene, like maybe all the actors didn't get along in real life or something. Then Tyler is about to go over some stuff with the dancers for the showcase when Mac shows up. He finds Tyler's big dark secret and is pissed and decides to never talk to Tyler ever again.
This must be the end of Act II in the movie cause not only is Tyler's friend (his only friend actually) pissed at him, but Andrew is back so that means Tyler's out of the showcase! GASP!!! Oddly enough, Nora still has two boyfriends, so whatever.
And I really can't believe in this day and age we still get the sad montage of the main character, who lost everything, just sitting in places looking collective while a slow sad song is playing. He even tries to explain everything to Mac but he's still pissed off at Tyler for dancing with white kids...honestly I don't even really get why Mac is mad. I mean Tyler did hang out with them when he could. I think of it as Tyler getting a job and Mac getting mad about that. Whatever, we're about to start Act III.
Almost instantly Mac forgives Tyler and they plan to go to a party at Heavy D's house. Nora's other boyfriend Andrew is too wimpy for this new dance routine and quits. Since she can't find Tyler, she decides to just fuck the whole thing and become a worker drone like her Mom wants her to.
The night of Heavy D's party, Tyler is at Skinny and Mac's house and their Mom says Skinny can't go to Heavy D's. And you probably know what's going to happen just my me merely saying that. I saw it coming 10 thousand miles away but the movie insists on dragging it out.
Tyler and Mac are at the party doing their thing when they run into Miles. Mac gets a reality check when he realizes how cool them dance/art school cats be. Then Skinny shows up. See? We're slowly getting there. Just...slowwwwly.
Tyler and Mac throw Skinny out of the party telling him to go home. Now that I see it, it's kinda their fault. They shoulda physically took him home, but nope. Skinny is walking when he see an Escalade. Remembering what Heavy D said earlier, he decides to take it. Well, this Escalade belongs to some big time gang member and-say it with me-Skinny gets popped.
Oh and despite being shot like 200 times, Skinny has no blood on him. How odd. In other news, Mac's Mom holds him responsible and sends him to 200 hours of community service in the stolen Escalade. After a tearful scene at Skinny's funeral, Mac gives Tyler the OK to go to the art school and do his thing. Funny how it takes the killing of his little brother for him to see the light and accept the whole "Maybe these white people aren't bad after all..."
So Tyler rushes over to the school before Nora goes on and after Nora rejects his plea to come back FIVE fuckin' times, she finally gives in. Mac sits in the audience and cheers for Tyler. The showcase begins and, well, it's all a lot of dancing. Pretty good dancing, don't get me wrong. But it's dancing. And Miles is doing the music for it. Oh and Miles and Lucy are finally dating.
When the showcase is done, ten thousand things go right for everybody. Nora is accepted into some dance company. Tyler is accepted into the school. Nora and Tyler are still fuckin'. Nora's Mom accepts that Nora dances and Tyler is...Tyler. Mac accepts Tyler's dancing skills. And the headmaster...is still hot.
As I stated, the ending credits feature actual people filming themselves dancing and there's a shitload of them. And the credits are so hard to see but no one's reading those, they're watching hot chicks jiggle in homemade videos. Watching this, I sorta have my doubts that I'm in the sequel after all cause apparently only people who took this "seriously" are featured, even though the entire concept is pretty goofy.
Ok, so what else needs to be said? It's a dance movie, so the acting isn't all that great, as with the storyline. And it's not even an interesting dance movie with any sort of villain presence or something. At least have some rich guy threaten to shut the school down or some crap. And this Channing Tatum dude is easily one of the worst actors I've ever seen. How he didn't get nominated for a Razzie in 2006 is beyond me. And I'm gonna re-instate that I'm not hatin' on the dancing in the movie, they all did a good job and I respect the art. I just don't think a movie about it is interesting. Unless it has the word "dirty" in it.
And finally, what could the sequel possibly be about? Maybe this time the school is going to be shut down by an evil rich guy and everyone must learn to live in the "Streets" or something? Looking at the cast for the sequel, none of the original people are in it. At least the main dude has a normal name. And the chick appears to be ten times hotter. Guess I'll let you know when I get it from Netflix next week.