Starring Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Cleopatra Coleman, Misha Gabriel Hamilton and Peter Gallagher. Written by Duane Adler and Jenny Mayer. Directed by Scott Speer. Produced by Jon M. Chu, Lynn K. D'Angona, Erik Feig, Jennifer Gibgot, Nan Morales, Adam Shankman and Patrick Wachsberger.
Every decade has an influential dance flick – the fifties had Singin' in the Rain, the eighties had Footloose and Dirty Dancing. After four films, it's safe to say Step Up represents this decade's, and while the dancing has certainly evolved, the storyline has not. This installment features everything from break dancing to flash mobs and some of the best choreography in a movie yet, but ultimately ends up being a watered down rehash of every cheesy teenage movie plot you've, no doubt, seen too many times. As usual, the two main characters (both dancers), Emily and Sean (McCormick and Guzman) come from different worlds, Emily from privaledge and Sean from poverty. Emily lacks creativity and Shaun lacks discipline, and in an effort to prevent Emily's evil rich father (Gallagher) from buying out the town, they work together and help each other overcome their faults.
Now, some may argue that the entire idea of setting up flash mobs is what makes this movie ridiculous but since it's part of a conscious decision to be over the top and glamorize dancing, isn't it exactly what the film needed and what its audience wants to see? It's definitely a nice showcase for the hip hop choreography, and an excuse to wow us with exotic costumes and great use of the set pieces (a unique dance number at an art gallery comes to mind, where the dancers actually perform as part of the artwork).
As far as the unconvincing performances, there's only so much blame that can be placed on the actors. The screenwriting bears the majority of this responsibility, not only with a formulaic story, but an underdeveloped one. The characters are forgettable, the dialogue is bland and it's difficult to feel anything for the story. Keeping in mind that this film is meant to be more entertaining than thought-provoking, its real fault isn't in recycling material from past movies of the genre, but in poorly developing the characters as well as any emotional interest, making for a lackluster story that doesn't do the art form justice.