Isn’t it too soon for a remake of “How She Move,” which came out less than a month ago? “How She Move” itself felt like a remake of all of those “You Got Served”/”Stomp the Yard”/”Save the Last Dance”/”Step Up” movies that are the 21st century version of the interchangeable series of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movies. Kids get together to put on a show, setting off a few romantic sparks and learning an important life lesson or two about loyalty and the importance of being yourself along the way, possibly overcoming some past loss as well.
The structure is as invariable as a sonnet. A teenage boy and girl from different backgrounds with different styles have to find a way to work together in time for the big dance competition. And they ramp up the dramatic weight of the competition with something else to prove, something more at stake, and some adult in the dancer’s life who must achieve a new understanding of how important this all is. Unlike most sequels, this does not repeat the characters from the original; it just repeats the story. The only thing that matters about the plot is that it gets out of the way of what we’re really here to see – the dance numbers. And by that standard, despite the dumbest teen dance sequel title since 1984’s “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” and teen lingo so out of date they might as well call the dance steps “groovy,” “Step Up 2 the Streets” succeeds.
Andie (Briana Evigan, daughter of television star Greg Evigan) is the street girl whose mother died of cancer and who feels the only family she has left is her hip-hop “crew” that competes in street dance competitions. An old friend (Channing Tatum, in a brief reprise of his role in the original “Step Up”) arranges for her to audition at the Maryland School of the Arts, where her fresh moves capture the attention of Big Man on Campus Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman). Chase’s brother, the ballet dancer who runs the school, is less impressed. When her old crew kicks her out for missing rehearsals, Andie and Chase put together a new crew made up of the school’s misfits and outcasts, just in time for the big competition.
The dances are almost as electrifying as those in “How She Move,” not surprising because choreographer Hi-Hat worked on both films (she appears briefly on a scene in the subway), with additional choreography by Jamal Sims of the first “Step Up” and Dave Scott of “Stomp the Yard.” The rousing conclusion has a nice nod to Gene Kelly’s classic “Singin’ in the Rain” dance number. It is fun to watch the kids perform to a souped-up hip-hop version of “Jump Down Turn Around (Pick a Bale of Cotton)”, and the street theater “pranks” they video to become eligible for the street competition are fresh and clever.
This does not have the gritty authenticity of “How She Move” – it is a Disney film, after all – but that means that even its toughest characters and confrontations are fairly mild for a PG-13. Evigan wisely emphasizes Andie’s softer side, Hoffman has a great smile, and both feel effortlessly natural on screen. A scene at a family barbecue includes some gorgeous salsa dancing and a sweet moment with the two leads talking quietly as they sit on a tree branch. The supporting cast of young dancers is especially strong, with fine work from Danielle Polanco as Andie’s friend from home and rubber-limbed Adam G. Sevani as the kid who knows he is not the dork others assume he is. The story may be old, but these kids act – and dance – as though they are telling it for the first time.
Parents should know that this movie has brief strong and crude language, some violence (character gets beat up), and some risky teenage behavior.
Families who see this movie should talk about what Andie and Chase learned from each other. Were you surprised by Moose? Why?
Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy the original Step Up, Stomp the Yard, Drumline, Save the Last Dance, and Stick It.