So it was this weekend with Step Up 2 The Streets. I’d been there in 2006 for the original Step Up, which was a lot of fun watching a white boy perform dance moves Afro-American teens had been perfecting for years. Amazingly athletic, the hip-hop soul of the dancing in the film was a joy to behold – and the film even had a story line and actors who could not only dance, but actually act.
Sequels rarely live up to the original film (Save The Last Dance 2, while enjoyable, was not a patch on the first film), and it is even more rare for a sequel to surpass the original. As such, I approached Step Up 2 The Streets with trepidation – only to be blown away by an absolutely delightful, positive, FUN, film with amazing dancing and music.
When you leave the theatre after seeing a great musical, you should come out singing. When you leave a great dance movie, you should come out feeling you are going to explode unless you can start dancing. Now, as a well past teenaged white guy who can still cut a rug when we go swing dancing, there was no way I was gonna bust a move like the kids in the movie – but the key is, I yearned to do so, and from that point of view the film is a huge success.
With a movie like Step Up 2 The Streets you do not expect a solid story, or even one differing from the formula Rocky made fashionable 30 years ago. So with plot merely an afterthought, the only facet of the film director John Chu needs to get right is the dancing, and he does so with a high level of enthusiasm. That energy rubs off on the entire cast as well as the audience.
Before long it doesn’t even matter if Step Up 2 The Streets’ plot is the same as every other urban dance movie ever made – really, how many misfit troublemakers have been saved by their ability to express themselves through dance? Whatever the number, the movie offers a compelling argument to make room for one more.
Okay, I’m willing to say up front that the incredibly multi-racial, non-tattooed, non-swearing, non-drinking or drug taking, inner-city world created in the film is totally unbelievable – way to hip-hop Disney – but I don’t care. It was great to go to a film for the pure enjoyment of the dancing and not to be bombarded by all the negatives of the world.
So, mercifully, the movie refrains from becoming too heavy-handed, and instead keeps its focus where it belongs: the eye-popping dance sequences. Movies are defined by having certain elements, and Step Up 2 The Streets would suffer without a story, but the plot only serves to enhance the drama of the awesome dance numbers.
The dancing here is the thing and it’s a joyful, amazing mix of hip-hop, gymnastics, krumping, clowning, and kids getting their freak on. The staged finale on the streets of Baltimore in the pouring rain is a fantastic piece of choreography I could watch again and again.
Step Up 2: The Streets may not be a great film, but it is a great dance film – a feel good, date night movie to get you dancing in the aisles.