Film review: "Step Up"
By Michelle Gao
Gargoyle assistant editor
Posted Monday, Nov. 20, 2006, The OG, arts
[Note: The DVD version of “Step Up” is scheduled to be released on Dec. 19.]
DVD release: Coming soon
AS I WALKED into the theater a few months ago to see “Step Up,” I must admit that I felt a little unsure about what I was going to see. While I had heard marvelous things about the movie, I was still wary that it would turn out to be a terrible remake of “Save the Last Dance” — which, by the way, I happen to love.
It turns out that I shouldn't have worried. “Step Up” was a remarkable blend of dance, music, and good acting. However, incorporating so many different elements of style into a single film must have been difficult, and it was painfully clear in several different places.
The plot is basic. Tyler Gage (played by Channing Tatum) is an underprivileged kid from the Baltimore slums who spends his days stealing cars with his friend Mac (Damaine Radcliffe) and Mac's little brother Skinny (De'Shawn Washington), and dances and parties his nights away.
After trashing an expensive set at the Maryland School of the Arts, he is assigned 200 hours of community service there. When he meets dancer Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan), he becomes her dance partner for the extremely important end-of-the-year showcase. Somewhere along the way, sparks fly. Issues of race and class are brought up briefly. In the end Tyler has a choice between his old life and new opportunities.
Full of clichés? Yes, of course. But while I was watching the movie the idea that the movie was one big cliché didn't occur to me at all. I was completely enthralled by the acting, the dancing, the music … and yet, when I thought about the movie a couple of days later, the only thing that had really stuck was the dancing, which was completely astounding. The way the movie blended both hip hop and ballet in a believable way was part of what made watching the film so enjoyable.
Other highlights of the film included small heart-warming scenes that were otherwise completely useless, such as when Tyler is looking after his foster siblings and discovers that one of them (played by Alyson Stoner) shares his love of dance.
Bottom line: While “Step Up” is quite an incredible movie when you're watching it, the good feeling can turn sour if you have to think about it. While the plot was somewhat overdone, the artistic elements of the film almost manage to make up for it.
“Step Up” was released on Aug. 11 and is no longer in the theaters. Look for the DVD on Dec. 19. Runtime: 98 minutes. Rated: PG-13.