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August 23, 2009

Step Up

by Franz Patrick

Step Up (2006)
★★★ / ★★★★

There’s something about dance movies that initially repel me from watching them, but when I actually give them a chance I can’t help but get engaged. “Step Up,” directed by Anne Fletcher (“27 Dresses,” “The Proposal”), tells the story of Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) who gets community service for vandalizing the props of a school for the arts (along with two of his friends–Damaine Radcliff and De’Shawn Washington). Initially assigned to mop the floors, take out the garbage and fix knickknacks, he decides to help out a girl (Jenna Dewan) named Nora for her Senior project after her partner gets a sprained ankle. What initially starts out to be a typical dance movie becomes a story about lower class people striving to be something so much more. I noticed it change gears somewhere in the middle and I liked it that much more. I like the fact that instead of the students from the school making fun of others outside of their bubble, it’s the people from the outside who have prejudice toward the students. Typically, it’s shown as the other way around so I found that to be refreshing. I thought it was also a good move by the movie to recognize that most of the students in the art school are not rich, like most college students, in fact, they’re on financial aid or scholarships and they have to work their butt off to earn their place. I couldn’t be any more wrong when I thought that this was just going to be another one of those movies that glorify dancing and being “gangster” and nothing else. It’s actually pretty thoughtful and it presented characters going through pivotal moments in their lives. I also enjoyed watching the supporting characters such as Mario as an aspiring musician/DJ, Drew Sidora as Dewan’s energetic friend and Rachel Griffiths as the art school’s director. Overall, I liked “Step Up” because it surpassed my expectations and it made me want to, strangely enough, dance.


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