Thursday, July 26, 2012
Review: "Step Up Revolution"
I am a "Step Up" virgin, somehow having managed to avoid -- excuse me, miss -- the first three flicks in the dancing-movie franchise. I actually went in thinking this was the third one, since it was in 3-D, and you know how clever they are about those numerals. But no, I learned afterward, this was actually the fourth.
Based on the enthusiasm of the audience at the promotional screening I attended, they better be gearing up for a fifth.
Alas, I am not the target audience for this movie, possessing about 20 years too many and some man parts. Not to mention, dancing is not my thing, neither doing it or watching it.
When it comes to dancing movies, I think no one has ever hit the sweet spot like the Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen films, who understood that the musical sequences have to move the story along.
In "Step Up Revolution," the dance numbers go on and on and on ... and on a little more. They're energetic and athletic and impressive, at least for a few minutes, and then they just keep hanging around. The final dance scene must sprawl along for 15 minutes and involve hundreds of performers, plus pyrotechnics, trampolines, bungee jumping and fog. There's always fog.
Oh, and some kid named Moose jumps out and starts jittering around, and the audience went wild. I take it he was in a couple of previous "Step" movies. He wears a hat, shades, long hair and so much clothing I couldn't really even tell what he was doing, other than just sort of vibrating a bit. Everyone else was impressed with his vibrating.
Even though I haven't seen any of the other "Step Up" movies or read anything about them, based on this one I'm going to make an educated guess about the plot of all of them:
They're centered around a boy/girl story, two people who come together through their love of dance. But they're from different worlds -- he's probably from that naughty side of the tracks -- and the institutions of propriety (parents, school, authority) frown on their jitterbugging. There's some static with friends pushed aside by the newly-formed duo, and some turbulent waters, but then everybody just dances and all their problems go away.
To those who've seen the other three movies -- how'd I do?
Here, Sean (Ryan Guzman) is the guy and Emily (Kathryn McCormick) is the girl. He's a waiter at a swanky Miami hotel; she's the daughter of the fat cat hotel owner (Peter Gallagher) who wants to demolish Sean's down-market but vibrant neighborhood to build an even swankier hotel. Eddie (Misha Gabriel) is the best friend who gets pushed aside, if for just a little bit.
Eddie and Sean have been designing flash mob events starring a group of dancers called, simply, "The Mob." They're trying to get noticed and win a YouTube contest for $100,000, which they don't look like they really need because Eddie is a hacker with at least $25,000 worth of computer gear, and all Mob members own super-sweet classic cars decked out with neon paint jobs and those jumping hydraulic suspension thingees.
I don't know why poor characters in movies always own nice classic cars. I own one, and I can tell you they're horrendously expensive to keep up. A couple of years ago my car began literally collapsing in on itself; I don't want to tell you what it cost to fix. Minimum wage slaves should really avoid them and get a sturdy used Honda.
Oh yes, back to the dancing.
Attitudes on dancing have changed with the times. The World War II and Korean War generations were bonkers for it, by my dad made me to understand that it was all an excuse for the genders to rub up against each other in a socially acceptable way. Elvis shook his pelvis, and that was deemed dangerous, and then things got groovier, with less clothing.
The through line seems to be that dancing is something women really love and something men do just to get the women. The lone exception, at least cinematically, was the disco craze captured in "Saturday Night Fever," where the guys strutted like peacocks so they could ... well, impress the women and thereby get them.
Gals, in case you haven't figured it out by now, we just tolerate dancing -- and dancing movies -- for ulterior motives.
I did enjoy some of the highly-choreographed dance scenes in "Step Up Revolution." Whenever the music stops and the characters try to talk to each other, it's pure death. But never fear, another dancing scene will soon come along to please those for whom this movie was made. Personally, I'd rather just read a book.
1.5 stars out of four