Most helpful positive review
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Much more impressive than I expected it to be
on April 4, 2007
Its foundation may be shaped by a number of clichés, but Step Up manages to rise above all of its individual parts and surpass expectations. I'm not really a fan of the whole dance movie genre, but I really enjoyed this movie. That being said, I would never have watched it had Jenna Dewan, the absolutely hottest female on the planet, not been in it. Apparently, Channing Tatum represents some kind of eye candy for the female audience, as well -- but all I know is that Jenna Dewan is a veritable goddess.
Let's list some of those clichés peppering this story: you've got your hip-hop hoodlum heading down the wrong path in life who gets an unexpected chance to do something worthwhile; your pretty, rich girl who takes a desperate chance with a guy from the other side of the tracks; their early friction but inevitable romance; and it's served up with a noticeable dash of a future gangster learning his lesson the hard way. It all works out in a predictably cheesy conclusion, of course, but this film is too good to let cheesy endings and predictable storylines bring it down. For some reason, everything about Step Up just works like a charm.
Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) is a wayward youth seemingly content to grow up as a real loser, spending most of his time hanging out with his equally carefree friends, jacking cars, and basically just being a juvenile delinquent. After he's busted for trashing the auditorium at the Maryland School of Dance, though, he's sentenced to two hundred hours of community service there at the school. His devil-may-care attitude doesn't win him any friends initially, but one talented young dancer, Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan) does take notice of the dancing skills she sees him displaying for his hoodlum friends. After her dancing partner injures his foot and she can't find a suitable replacement, she reluctantly agrees to give Tyler a shot. She's desperate because the big Fall Senior Showcase is coming up, and that represents her big chance of actually making it as a dancer after she graduates. Obviously, it's not a smooth road ahead -- getting Tyler to mimic her more formal moves, getting Tyler to show up to practice on time, etc. Somewhere along the way, though, Tyler begins to have a new perspective on life and -- for the first time ever -- begins to dream of a better future. His friends resent him for what he is doing, but that proves to be the least of his troubles.
Step Up has a little bit of everything -- it's way more than a mere excuse to watch some good dancing. Most importantly, it starts with a story we've seen and heard before in numerous forms and takes it to new heights. And every strand of that story ultimately culminates beautifully in the Senior Showcase. Channing Tatum isn't going to win any awards for his brooding, uninspired acting, but that takes nothing away from the story. For her part, Jenna Dewan is fantastic in every way.
Finally, I just want to say that parents of young teenagers should have no qualms about letting their kids watch this movie. I think the PG-13 rating hinges for the most part on a tragic event that takes place late in the film. There is mild profanity, but there is no nudity whatsoever. The only danger would be for pre-adolescent boys, as the mere sight of Jenna Dewan is more than capable of causing the immediate onset of puberty. Seriously, though, this is a really good film that not only entertains, it also conveys a number of really important lessons about growing up in the real world, chasing your dreams, etc.