`How She Move' takes many plot steps we've seen before. Reminiscent of some of the dramatic moves taken in films like `Take the Lead,' and `Akeelah and the Bee,' the movie makes quite an impression when the characters are on stage ready to dance.
A second generation Jamaican, Rayanne (Raya) Green (Rutina Wesley) is a child prodigy, ready to go to prestigious colleges after an education at a private high school. The only thing keeping her from the best prospects are her family's finances. She has to drop out and enroll at a public school, where she is now an outsider to her former friend, Michelle (Tre' Armstrong), and her peer group. All the while she and her family are grieving over the loss of her elder sister, Pam, and all the fallout of her deadly drug use.
Trying to keep her head up, Raya is well-rounded. While she is an ace at academics, she is also sharp on the auto shop floor where all her friends gather to stomp out the latest moves. More interested in her romantically, Bishop (Dwain Murphy), who has known her since fifth grade, makes advances, but shuns the prospect of having her in his stomp "crew". Potentially, she must do the balancing act of many talented teenagers: She has to study for her exams, practice her dance moves with the boys, and come up with a way to pay for her tuition. Added to that is the reluctant misery she faces by becoming Michelle's tutor to avoid suspension after a physical fight.
`How She Move' is an enjoyable film experience. While the acting is second rate compared to what we`ve seen in `American Gangster (2-Disc Unrated Extended Edition)' and `The Great Debaters,' the characters are thoroughly lovable. Some suspension of disbelief is also necessary. (Are they all really allowed all this class time to practice their dance steps in the auto shop? Sometimes we actually see them working on their cars, and then we only see the adults when a fight breaks out in the shop.) Often times we get so dazzled, we don't even care.
The real answer lies with the entertainment. Some of the situations and tension we've experienced in similar films with praiseworthy themes, but the real star of the movie is the dancing. When that comes front and center, we get a real extravaganza. Sort of the 'American Idol - The Best of Seasons 1 - 4' of the stomp experience, the contest, `Step Monster' is a real spectrum of choreography and flair. And it is in this way that 'How She Move' is most effective: When it lets the dancing do the talking.