Movies: "Step Up Revolution" | Arts & Culture

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Movies: "Step Up Revolution"
Movies: "Step Up Revolution"

 

This is a trite, predictable little movie that succeeds despite itself, thanks to its energetic and imaginative dance productions.  I enjoyed much of its "muy caliente" Miami flavor, a welcome respite from a rainy weekend.

 

Emily Anderson (Kathryn McCormick, “Fame”), wants to join a professional dance troupe in Miami, while her Donald Trump-like dad (Peter Gallagher) plans a gigantic hotel complex.  She meets hotel waiter Sean (Ryan Guzman), whose other life centers around a hip-hop dance group known as The Mob, who pop up in public locales to wow the locals and get big hits on YouTube.  

 

But when Mr. Anderson announces plans to tear down Sean’s old neighborhood for his big project, The Mob swings into action to block the project.  Will Sean and Emily’s budding romance survive the generational conflict?  Will Emily make it as a dancer?  And will Mr. Anderson’s cold heart be melted by the moves of the outlaw dancers?  

 

If you’ve seen any of those old Hollywood movies in which someone says, “We’ve got some costumes in the barn, let’s put on a show,” you already know the answers.

 

That’s the downside of the movie.  The plus side lies in the dancing itself, which includes some astonishing scenes, including a Mob invasion of a posh art gallery, in which the dancers emerge from the paintings themselves, and a street performance that opens the movie, featuring choreography by low rider automobiles, jacking themselves up, down and sideways in step with the human dancers.

 

McCormick and Guzman are better dancers than actors, and are given some support by  Misha Gabriel Hamilton as Eddy, the leader of The Mob, and particularly by veteran character actor Mario Ernesto Sanchez as Ricky, the owner of a Mob-friendly tavern.  The movie also earns points for having employed dozens of young dancers.

 

“Step Up Revolution” is the fourth in the “Step Up” series of movies, and was directed by Scott Speer, whose previous career consisted mostly of music videos.  The hackneyed script is by Duane Adler, based on characters originally created by Amanda Brody for the earlier films.  The music is mostly a series of hip-hop cuts by such artists as Timbaland, Fergie and M.I.A.

 

But the real stars of this production are its production designer Carlos Menendez, who cut his teeth on such shows as “Miami Vice;” art designers Charles Daboub Jr. and Caleb Mikler;  and above all, choreographer Chuck Maldonado, a talented dancer and choreographer who has worked on everything from “So You Think You Can Dance” to “Stomp the Yard.”  Their imaginative visions make the movie.

 

“Step Up Revolution” is rated PG-13 for some sensuous dance moves.  It’s perfect for aspiring young dancers or anyone looking for a few hours’ break from a rainy day.  I give it a B-Minus.

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