NEW How She Move (DVD)
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How She Move
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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.
Rutina Wesley has modest appeal as the academically gifted inner-city youngster who finds that the best way for her to raise her private school tuition money is by entering step-dance competitions, but both she and her fellow actors are poorly served by uninspired screenwriting and undistinguished direction. As noted earlier, the movie achieves some spark when the performers are up on stage dancing, but such moments are far too few and sadly fleeting.
Rayanna Green (Rutina Wesley) is not only a good student, but she's also a great dancer who has to earn the respect of the boys in the dance crew. Somehow this group manages to get tons of school time, and the auto-shop facilities to practice their moves, while fulfilling and/or overcoming every cliché in cinema history. Among those clichés is obviously the big dance-off ending with corny DJs, and I can guarantee you can guess the winner. This movie is so unoriginal, I think the makers of Stomp the Yard, Step Up, and Save the Last Dance should look into legal proceedings.
I remember seeing the preview of this movie, thinking it was a bland remake, and writing it off. But when it ended and I saw that the title was "How She Move", I immediately became irritated with the insidious way in which ebonics have crept into acceptability. If anything, the movie should have been titled "Oh No She Di'int" because of the audacity needed to title a movie with such egregious grammar. The dancers and choreography may be nimble, but the acting and plot serve as the two left feet of the drunk uncle who shows up at every family wedding, and ruins whatever positive vibe there may have been amongst those who are having fun and dancing.
Raya sticks to her plans to attend medical school but must overcome obstacles. These obstacles include her old nemesis/friend Michelle and Raya trying to get into Bishop's step crew. Raya's naturally talented in step but Bishop, though he's very attracted to Raya, doesn't want a female on his crew. Raya becomes determined to be on Bishop's crew after realizing she can win fifty thousand dollars at a step competition. She plans to use the money for medical school. Bishop suggests she gets on a girl's crew, namely Michelle's but Raya isn't having it. She doesn't give up and finds help in Bishop's younger brother who teaches her Bishop's routines behind his back.
Bishop finally agrees to let Raya step in his group but his ego gets the best of him when he sees she's easily the best in the crew. From that point on Raya continues to try to prove herself to those around her and ends up learning many valuable lessons. Though she hits roadblocks with Michelle and Bishop, they both help her to see that they need her as much as she needs them.
I was surprised at how good this film was. I enjoyed it because it's not the typical hip-hop movie. This is a film about a woman's journey and that woman just happens to know how to step. I think those that said the film's dances lacked something (which they didn't to me), didn't understand that the movie wasn't about the stepping. It was about Raya's life and what's she goes through. Stepping was just a tiny part of it. I thought the dancing was very good, about as good as any other step film I've seen. The actress that plays Raya is vibrant, very beautiful and brings forth a sympathetic charm that attracts you to her. The movie was realistic but you won't see any violence or sex. Maybe that's why some were disappointed. This is truly a film you can watch with your family. It's very entertaining and provides a big message about the choices we make and how we deal with them.
If have an open mind and realize that every black film doesn't have to be violent, full of sex, gang violence, involve drive-bys or have characters who or criminals and drug heads, then you will like this movie. There is NONE of that in this film. In fact the only kiss in the movie was the one between Bishop and Raya after they win the step competition. For those that expect this to be "Boys in the Hood" meets "Fame" then How She Move is definitely not for you. It's not for narrow-minded people who think that all urban films must deal with the street life and the results of it. This is a movie for people (of any race) who'd like to be entertained while learning a lesson about live, love and dreams. I definitely recommend it.
Overall, I love this movie - and after about 5 years, I definitely ordered the DVD.