With Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Peter Gallagher, Misha Gabriel, Cleopatra Coleman. Written by Jenny Mayer. Directed by Scott Speer. Rated PG-13 (for some suggestive dancing and language). 97 minutes.
It’s an even number year so it must be time for another “Step Up” movie. Sure enough, here’s STEP UP REVOLUTION, which has almost nothing to do with the earlier films but continues in the spirit of the series. There’s a lame plot stringing together a lot of energetic dance numbers. There’s nothing wrong with that. The classic MGM musicals were much the same, although the dialogue was a bit sharper.
The setting is now Miami. The film opens with a traffic jam that suddenly turns into a production number. The inspiration for the story is the concept of the “flash mob,” a group of people who – seemingly at random – coordinate into an elaborate, choreographed production. There are several of them across the film and they are the best thing about it.
Meanwhile, between dances, there’s a story. Sean (Ryan Guzman) is a member of “The Mob,” the people responsible for these Miami street scenes. He and his pal Eddy (Misha Gabriel) are having these dances recorded and then uploaded to YouTube. Apparently there’s a contest where whomever is the first to reach 10 million hits on their video will get a big cash prize. Sean and Eddy feel if they can achieve this it will launch their careers.
Sean and Eddy work as waiters at a luxury hotel. One day after work Sean meets Emily (Kathryn McCormick), an aspiring dancer. They “meet cute” at a bar on the beach and are soon in a hot little dance number. Unknown to Sean, Emily is the daughter of Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher), a wealthy developer who is the heavy for two reasons. First, he doesn’t want Emily to pursue her interest in dance. Instead he wants her to join his company. Second, he’s in Miami to tear down the neighborhood where “The Mob” lives and plays. When Emily discovers Sean’s secret, she wants to join The Mob, but Sean doesn’t want to reveal to his friends who she really is.
You can probably write the rest of the story yourself. The plot is exceedingly silly, right up to the turn-on-a-dime redemption of Anderson. However, the dance numbers are a lot of fun. Since the idea is to surprise people rather than simply come up with another production for a dance competition (as in the previous films) they are varied, taking place on the street, in a fancy restaurant, and in art museum. The best number is their “protest” in the lobby of an office building, featuring the crew in business attire with dancers on the floor, on the escalator, and with cash showering down. Busby Berkeley (who staged “We’re In The Money” for “Golddiggers Of 1933”) would be proud.
Besides the weak story the one moment that jars is a protest dance – after Eddy and the others learn the “truth” about Emily – which involves smoke bombs and gas masks. Delaying the release of the movie probably wasn’t in the cards, but the news from Colorado last week is still fresh in viewers’ minds. It’s inevitable that one will not be able to see this as good guys stepping over the line but as an echo of that tragic event. Unfortunately, it’s a key plot point or else the number could have simply been cut.
As movie franchises go, “Step Up Revolution” isn’t great, but it’s not quite “Twilight” trite either. If you can enjoy the dance numbers and ignore the rest, it can be fun.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.