If you buy a ticket for Step Up Revolution expecting honest, heartfelt performances from some of Hollywood’s best actors as they work from an intelligent script… well, shame on you.
If, though, your iPhone includes equal measures of Skrillex and Pitbull, and you DVR So You Think You Can Dance just so you can watch each episode over and over again, you’re in luck. And then some.
The fourth installment in the franchise, whose first two go-rounds helped launch Channing Tatum into the stratosphere, is back again. And even though the script is laughable, the plot ridiculous (and clichéd to the point of being laughable), and the acting so hammy it’s laughable, dammit if you don’t find yourself leaving the theater with a big smile on your face and a sudden desire to pop and lock your way to your car.
The beginning plot (yes, it shifts about half-way through) focuses on ‘The Mob’, a gaggle of impossibly beautiful people who are trying to win a YouTube contest by scoring 10 million hits. Their idea is to flash-mob all of Miami, from Ocean Drive to art museums. Fortunately they have the moves to back it up.
Buy tickets online for Step Up Revolution at Essex Cinemas and Cumberland 12.
Leading the gang is Sean (Ryan Guzman), a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who waits tables by day in a swanky hotel. When he falls for Emily (Kathryn McCormick), the classically-trained dancer who happens to be the daughter of the hotel’s developer (Peter Gallagher), well… it doesn’t take GPS to tell you where this thing is heading.
…especially when (plot #2) daddy wants to raze a local ‘slum’ (which Sean, his family, and all his friends coincidentally call home) to make way for a billion-dollar hotel project. What’s a girl to do?
Suddenly, ‘The Mob’ has to dance for a real reason (ways of life are at stake!), and so they take to the streets in a series of flash mobs designed to stop big business in its tracks. Boy, I wonder if they’ll succeed!
But we’re not here to analyze plot structure and break down the nuance in Guzman’s performance, we’re here to watch the pretty people dance… which they do– often and well.
Director Scott Speer (The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) knows what time it is, and give him credit– he makes Step Up Revolution surprisingly watchable. Never allowing his camera to sit still for even a second, he gives the movie a hyper-kinetic feel, capped with mind-bending choreography and technicolor costumes.
The dance sequences, from Emily’s balletic pieces to the 3D-ified craziness of the flash mobs (the art museum one is the best of the bunch), are all off-the-charts– with the lone exception being an morbidly relevant routine that starts with the dance crew lobbing smoke grenades and bursting in wearing gas masks.
Guzman and McCormick can both strut their stuff like no one’s business, and they’re pretty solid together. It’s only when they open their mouths and try to spew freshman screenwriter Amanda Brody’s drivel that they get in trouble. Fortunately, the non-dance stuff doesn’t make up more than a third of the movie.
One other note– fans of the Step Up series (we know you’re out there) will be jazzed to see a familiar face return toward the end of the proceedings. And no, it’s not Channing Tatum. He’s actually graduated to movies that don’t make you cringe whenever the plot and dialogue rear their ugly head.
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@popcollin is the resident movie critic at Essex Cinemas in Essex, VT, and Cumberland 12 in Plattsburgh, NY.