Here’s another lower budget film with another clichéd story (what movie isn't these days?). Boy on wrong side of tracks meets richer girl, learn to dance, fall in love, obligatory silly stumbling block, then finally get together and perform fantastic routine together and we all smile. Well, at least it works almost everytime. This time, Disney seems to be having a pretty good summer with the underdog movies and along with Invincible, seem to have two of the bigger breakout hits of the summer (the third being Prada).
What sets Step Up apart is the fact that it’s actually filmed in rougher looking locations giving it much more realism, and using horrible lighting that doesn’t glossify the events. Taking hold of the stories are a set of unknowns, Jenna Dewan (also in Take the Lead, though pretty much all her speaking parts were cut and all we were left with was her great finale dance, left a little unmoving since we didn’t get to know her character), and Channing Tatum (who, with this movie, She’s the Man, and the new untitled Kimberley Pierce project, seems to have gotten this summers up and comer boy slot). The two have a naturalism (if not the greatest vocal dramatizations) that along with filming in the city Baltimore, gives the fairytale plot much more grit. While I don’t think he’s as handsome or hot as all the girls around me though, Channing Tatum has an intensity to him that makes him shine. His baggy grey eyes and imperfections add to the likeable portrayal of the “good boy on the bad side of the blocks trying to do good but not knowing how”. Jenna is refreshingly cute without being cloying (though I thought she looked better in Take the Lead, but alas, that’s what grit gives you), and though I wonder how good her agent is, it was kinda fun to see Rachel Griffiths in something that wasn’t heavy and about death.
In the end, much like it’s Disney cousin Invincible (except replace great dancing shots for great football shots), Step Up tells a familiar tale but with heart and hard work that makes it transcend its genre into a movie that I finally caved and bought into.
7.5/10 or a B
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