STEP UP ALL IN. Starring Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam Sevani, Mari Koda. Directed by Trish Sie. Rated PG (Mild coarse language).
It is about eight years since the first Step Up film was released to great enthusiasm, offering an opportunity for Channing Tatum to dance and for Rachel Griffiths to have a serious role. But that seems a long time ago. However, it is not that the dancing has been out of mind with several sequels, Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3 D, Step Up Revolution. There has been no abatement of dancing and competitiveness.
So, what is left? The old group have come from Miami to Los Angeles for auditions, led by Sean (Ryan Guzman) who was in the last film. During the opening credits, there is quite an amount of dancing as a panel are looking for a particular dancer – there are all kinds of characters, all kinds of costumes, all kinds of movement during this opening sequence. But, the group does not win, because it seems that the result was rigged from the start.
They are glum for a few minutes and then intend to go back to Miami but Sean becomes full of enthusiasm and decides that the group should come back together again because he has discovered that there is a significant competition in Las Vegas. He meets Moose, from the previous films who connects him with some of the dancers and introduces him to Andie (Briana Evigan) from Step Up 2. They click and one does not need to be prophetic to know that romance will be in the air.
Off to Las Vegas, some scenes of rehearsing, then a performance by the rival group and then themselves who are now called LMNTL (elemental!). Since this is halfway through the film, both groups go into the finals, so that there will be have to be a competitive finale (and there is).
But, since this is only halfway through the film, there has to be some drama as well and Sean and Andie fallout, she not trusting him when he asks her to be lifted by him and then do a complete somersault with him catching her and lowering her to the floor. Off she goes. Fortunately there is an old couple with a history of dancing and they have a good talk to Sean enabling him to discern that an apology is in order.
So, for the rest of the film, Sean gets the group together again, Andie decides to return, they go to Las Vegas, participating in the competition with an extraordinary blend of acrobatics and mime and dance (though the timeline of the film does not seem to give them any time for rehearsal to achieve this kind of success). And, of course, that somersault destined for great applause. The compere has been backing the other group behind the scenes but there is nothing like audience acclaim for our group to win absolutely.
And the prize was worth dancing for, a three-year contract for them all in Las Vegas. Were this reviewer a screenwriting type, he would already have the screenplay for Step Up Las Vegas well underway.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Out September 11th 2014.