Movie: Step Up: All In
My Rating: 5 stars
This is definitely the new, best, dance movie, ever! I know I say that about all the new, cheesy, dance flicks, but they just keep getting bigger and better. I didn’t know how the Step Up franchise was going to top all the delicious, cheesy goodness of Step Up: Revolution. I mean, how can you get any more silly and trashy than Miami? But, then I realized my colossal mistake when they announced that this new installment was going to be set in Las Vegas. That’s the big leagues of tasteless decadence! And, every moment was amazing.
In this storyline, our old heroes from #4, “The Mob,” have moved to Los Angeles and are trying to make a living with their dancing. And naturally, it’s really hard. Those commercial auditions are brutal. And, you just can’t make enough money to get by when you’re splitting your earnings amongst a crew of twelve. Our dancers are about to give up on the dream . . . that is, until they learn about “The Vortex,” a fantastic, new dance competition in Las Vegas, which offers a three-year contract, dancing at the “beautiful Caesar’s Palace hotel and casino” as first prize. So, the leader of the pack assembles a dream team, made up of all our favorite dancers from the past three movies (yes, I know them all), to take Vegas by storm. It’s all I could have hoped for.
I guess the one difference in this movie is that unlike its predecessors, it actually has a sense of humor about itself. It usually takes several sequels for a movie franchise to become self-aware. The Fast and Furious films took about five movies to start making fun of their brand. So, this being the fifth movie in the series, I guess this one is right on schedule for poking fun at itself. It starts with subtle stuff. The film starts off with the characters lamenting the degrading nature of the commercial dance audition. Casting agents ask them to do all kinds of embarrassing things. “We want to feel your passion for the product. Treat the hose like it’s your family. Make love to it. And, use the product!” Then the absurdity escalates. Kids go on dates, and find themselves inexplicably dancing in abandoned carnivals—or trashing one another’s workplaces in dancing montages. But, at one point, one of the characters just states outright, “Does every argument have to turn into a huge dance battle?” It’s pretty great.
But, this movie pulls out all the stops when it comes to dance numbers. It seems like they’re dropping one in every five minutes, which is perfect. I’m not watching this thing for the story! But, then the staging is totally over-the-top too. This is Vegas! There’s fire, and crystals, and chandeliers! And, this film finally figured out a way to phase out the inevitable, final, rain-stomping, dance number. But, it isn’t a great solution. They have the dancers kicking around in a large sandbox. I don’t think the filmmakers had planned for how horrifying of an idea that was. Thinking about the dryness of all that sand on the dancers’ bodies made my skin crawl. And, I was cringing at the idea of the dancers kicking sand particles into the spectator’s eyes. I think it was a failed experiment. Although, I do applaud the effort.
I loved every bit of this film. It had everything I was hoping for—cheesy love stories, overwrought acting, lights, glitter, and characters working out their difference or settling bets with dance battles. It’s the way the world should be. I found myself yelling at the TV, “Why isn’t this my life?!?!” I also found the movie to be thoroughly interactive. That dubstep beat is infectious. So, of course, I was dancing at the TV throughout the whole film. The cat was a little alarmed. Just when she would get good and settled on my lap, another dance scene would begin that I would have to “participate” in. She didn’t care for it a bit. So, I would totally recommend this movie, but I don’t know how reliable a critic I am in this instance. You already know how much I love these things. They’re my weakness. I know in my heart that they are pieces of garbage, but I just can’t quit them. So, use your judgment.