This ain't High School Musical!

It's hard to write about Step Up 2: The Streets. On the one hand: yes, it's a completely generic, predictable, poorly acted and worse written tale of Andie, a girl from the streets getting into a fancy school, becoming an outcast there because all the suits don't recognize her genius, getting kicked out of her street crew for deserting them, and ultimately smiles all around. It's pretty poor. One Hispanic girl throws in an "Ay dios mio!" when we first see her, just to prove that, y'know, she isn't Hungarian. Andie's guardian is trying to look after her, but is painted as the bad guy for looking after Andie and trying to keep her out of trouble. (Incidentally, she is played by Kima from The Wire – Baltimore what what). You'll notice it's her guardian and not her mum. That's because the mum died of cancer, of course. The characters are entirely rigid in their "bad guy" or "good guy" roles. There's the usual gut-wrenching decision to be made: should Andie stay in her crew and exist solely to win dance competitions in an abandoned warehouse and almost get arrested; or should she try and get an education? It's a tricky choice.

But the thing is: We KNOW this. I didn't watch the movie expecting to see a novel new plot arc that wasn't already in Flashdance or Fame or the first Step Up – though I've only seen one of those three films. You KNOW the characters are going to be ultra-broad stereotypes. You KNOW the ending before it's even started. You KNOW that everyone's going to learn something about acceptance. But you watch it exclusively for the dancing. And some of that was intense. Most of it wasn't, though. Bonus points for using a dead fish as part of a dance routine – that needs to happen more often. And there were some pretty nifty moves (tricks? steps?) on a trampoline. But for the most part, it wasn't all that hot. The music was top-notch: I don't listen to the radio too much, so I'm not sick of that Flo-Rida jam just yet. There was some comic-relief from a character named Moose, who was funny despite apparently only being directed to "do exactly what the nerdy character is supposed to do in films and nothing else". But the dance numbers weren't nearly as eye-popping enough to make me tune out the terribleness of the rest of the movie. Beyond watching it as a drinking game – drink every time someone says "The Streets", three drinks in the first two minutes – there is no reason for anyone that's past the age of majority to go anywhere near this.

There's a well-argued piece about the film here , calling it "the single most racist movie that will be released by any major American studio in the first 10 years of the twenty-first century." Definitely worth a read.


keyser soze said...

So what does that say about me, since I saw this movie TWICE in one week? To make up for it, though, I vow to never watch it again. Had it been anyone other than you and Lane... I would've skipped it.

the almost right word said...

Just checking out your blog via Half Deserted Streets. I LOVE this post. It's the first I've seen about Step Up 2 and I respect everything you said. I watched it solely for the dancing -- I'm a dance movie fiend. Some of the dancing was decent, particularly when Channing Tatum showed up at the beginning. But overall...definitely average. I immediately downloaded the soundtrack though. ;) Thanks for that link at the bottom. I'm going to check that out too.

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