Step Up - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Step Up Reviews

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April 30, 2015
This movie didn't have enough content for guys like me. It was decent but wasn't directed at my target market.
April 19, 2015
Love the chemistry between the two of them.
April 12, 2015
I swear I only want to see this for the dancing. I assume the plot is stale and the dialog unoriginal (like Stomp the Yard - I only watched it for the stepping!!!!)
April 2, 2015
So what if its a cliché? That's what that makes Step Up so great! Outdone by it's sequel however
March 31, 2015
The movie was great! The plot kept you up on your seats. The dancing throughout was terrific.
March 26, 2015
ð??? it can't wait to own it
½ March 22, 2015
Attractive leads but the plot is saturated with dumb teen cliches playing to the audience.
February 25, 2015
"I'm fighting, for something that's real for the first time in my life!"

When Anne Fletcher made her directorial debut way back in 2006 no one imagined that this small budget film with a relatively unknown cast would end up grossing over 100 million in the US and inspiring a franchise that currently stands at five movies. It wasn't received warmly by the critics due to its cliche storyline and corny dialogues, but audiences dug it. I never was interested in the franchise and this was my first time actually sitting down and watching one. The main reason was because I knew this was Channing Tatum's break out role. He had done a couple of movies before with smaller roles, but this was the first time he was given a lead role. Tatum has delivered some strong roles recently (Foxcatcher being his most impressive) so I wanted to go back and revisit some of his earlier work. I was surprised I actually ended up enjoying this film as much as I did and I think it is largely due to Tatum's charisma. He didn't deliver a great performance, but he definitely carried the film with his charm making it enjoyable. The dancing was also pretty solid although I am not much of an expert in that area. The main problems with Step Up revolve around the cliched screenplay and dull subplots that almost derailed the film completely, but the charisma from Tatum and his excellent chemistry with Jenna Dewan make this an entertaining viewing experience. It's been 9 years since Tatum and Dewan met on set for this movie and they are still together in real life. The chemistry was really there.

Step Up is one of those films that you know is formulaic, unoriginal, and without any great technical achievements, but you still find it enjoyable due to the charismatic lead performances. You could file Step Up under the romance/dance genre along with other films as Bring it On, Save the Last Dance, and Honey. The screenplays are perhaps the weakest thing about these films, but you still can find them enjoyable when the lead characters deliver charismatic performances and know how to dance. That is the case with Channing Tatum who plays a troubled young teen who lives with his foster parents and spends a lot of time in the streets. One night out with his friends he ends up vandalizing an arts school and gets caught. He is ordered to do 200 hours of community service as payment for the damages he caused. At the school he meets a young student from a wealthy family played by Jenna Dewan who dreams of becoming a dancer. When her dancing partner gets injured, he offers to help, and the plot evolves from there.

The story works best when it focuses on the two lead characters rehearsing and dancing together, but when the film shifts its focus on other subplots revolving around their friends the story losses some of its appeal. There is unnecessary conflict introduced in the film that is resolved rather easily and in a predictable way. There is also a tragic scene that takes place near the end of the film that felt out of place (the melodrama is poorly handled by the screenwriters). However, the final dance scene is one of the best in the movie so it does end in a positive note. Despite its predictable storyline and formulaic premise, Step Up is still an enjoyable film. Not good enough however to get me interested in the sequels.
February 25, 2015
"I'm fighting, for something that's real for the first time in my life!"

When Anne Fletcher made her directorial debut way back in 2006 no one imagined that this small budget film with a relatively unknown cast would end up grossing over 100 million in the US and inspiring a franchise that currently stands at five movies. It wasn't received warmly by the critics due to its cliche storyline and corny dialogues, but audiences dug it. I never was interested in the franchise and this was my first time actually sitting down and watching one. The main reason was because I knew this was Channing Tatum's break out role. He had done a couple of movies before with smaller roles, but this was the first time he was given a lead role. Tatum has delivered some strong roles recently (Foxcatcher being his most impressive) so I wanted to go back and revisit some of his earlier work. I was surprised I actually ended up enjoying this film as much as I did and I think it is largely due to Tatum's charisma. He didn't deliver a great performance, but he definitely carried the film with his charm making it enjoyable. The dancing was also pretty solid although I am not much of an expert in that area. The main problems with Step Up revolve around the cliched screenplay and dull subplots that almost derailed the film completely, but the charisma from Tatum and his excellent chemistry with Jenna Dewan make this an entertaining viewing experience. It's been 9 years since Tatum and Dewan met on set for this movie and they are still together in real life. The chemistry was really there.

Step Up is one of those films that you know is formulaic, unoriginal, and without any great technical achievements, but you still find it enjoyable due to the charismatic lead performances. You could file Step Up under the romance/dance genre along with other films as Bring it On, Save the Last Dance, and Honey. The screenplays are perhaps the weakest thing about these films, but you still can find them enjoyable when the lead characters deliver charismatic performances and know how to dance. That is the case with Channing Tatum who plays a troubled young teen who lives with his foster parents and spends a lot of time in the streets. One night out with his friends he ends up vandalizing an arts school and gets caught. He is ordered to do 200 hours of community service as payment for the damages he caused. At the school he meets a young student from a wealthy family played by Jenna Dewan who dreams of becoming a dancer. When her dancing partner gets injured, he offers to help, and the plot evolves from there.

The story works best when it focuses on the two lead characters rehearsing and dancing together, but when the film shifts its focus on other subplots revolving around their friends the story losses some of its appeal. There is unnecessary conflict introduced in the film that is resolved rather easily and in a predictable way. There is also a tragic scene that takes place near the end of the film that felt out of place (the melodrama is poorly handled by the screenwriters). However, the final dance scene is one of the best in the movie so it does end in a positive note. Despite its predictable storyline and formulaic premise, Step Up is still an enjoyable film. Not good enough however to get me interested in the sequels.
February 15, 2015
pretty good as a dance movie. Channing Tatum is really good at dancing!
½ January 29, 2015
It flattens me to think that Channing Tatum has managed to come so far after being in things like this. Full review later.
January 8, 2015
Although it has a patchy storyline and some off performances from supporting characters, the chemistry between the leads is undeniable and it is a mildly enjoyable flick.
January 1, 2015
Favorite movie through the years come by
December 16, 2014
I want to watch it again
½ December 12, 2014
If you want a cheesy film, this is awesome
½ December 5, 2014
What led me to this page? Why am I reviewing this?
November 7, 2014
I love this movie!!!!
November 4, 2014
I was expecting something awful but I was pleasantly surprised how good this turned out I really enjoyed it the acting was good and the dancing was a great a pretty
Good movie which I enjoyed Channing Tatum does a very good performance and he proves he can act a pretty good movie
Grade B
½ September 26, 2014
Films as bad as this are rare gems!
½ September 24, 2014
The surprise commercial success of Save the Last Dance ushered in a wave of films focussed around street dance and hip-hop. Where classic-era Hollywood dance films were dominated by ballroom, ballet and tap dancing, the 2000s gave us film after film in which impressive street or hip-hop choreography came face-to-face with decades-old romantic and dramatic conventions, with varying degrees of success.

At the more mainstream end of this wave we have Step Up, the first in a series of five films (to date) which combine predictable plots with often jaw-dropping dancing. But where its sequels increasingly sacrificed narrative for the sake of set-pieces, the film that started it all gets a good balance and is the most focussed of all the series. It's hardly game-changing in its construction, but it is surprisingly heartwarming and comes across as more genuine than you might expect.

It's very easy to view dance films as essentially a series of set-pieces held together by a threadbare story. Even in the so-called golden days of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, around ten times the effort seemed to be expended on the dancing than on the events that made them dance in the first place. As I argued in my review of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it is possible to enjoy these films as artistic endeavours rather than narrative ones, but for the less freeform among us, even the best leave us with an unsatisying niggle.

The best dance films, in any sub-genre, succeed because they are not really about dancing. The Red Shoes is about the boundary between fantasy and reality, and the tension between creativity and common sense. Black Swan is about the need to embrace one's dark side in striving for artistic perfection, even at the cost of one's sanity. Even Strictly Ballroom, Baz Luhrmann's raucous debut, is less about ballroom dancing than the fight against orthodoxy and how the fear of failure cripples people.

Step Up may not boast the richly-layered themes of any of these offerings, nor is it as visually ravishing. But it does belong in the same camp, since its dancing is used to explore ideas and character traits rather than just serve as a distraction. Instead of dazzling you with MTV-style cuts and empty, shallow bombast, the film is an altogether gentler beast, whose moments of posturing are tame and infrequent.

Despite not having the visual splendour of Luhrmann, Darren Aronofsky or Powell and Pressburger, Step Up is still a decent-looking film. Michael Seresin has spent much of his career working with Alan Parker, lensing all of his films between Bugsy Malone and Come See The Paradise. You won't find here any of the evocative colour shifts and shadows that he achieved in Angel Heart, but the colour palette is inviting and his use of wide angles is judicious.

Much like Charles Walters, director of High Society, Anne Fletcher comes from a background in choreography. There are occasions when we get the impression that the sets have been deliberately designed to be as big and spacious as possible, to allow more room for the dancing and more scope for the camera movements. But while Walters ultimately failed to tell his story in an interesting way, Fletcher has enough grasp of cinematic narrative to hold our attention.

The set-pieces in Step Up are of a very high quality. While less kinetic or feverish than in some of the sequels, there's still an awful lot of physical effort that goes into the various sequences. As a showcase for how exciting dancing can be, the film is on a par with some of the classic Hollywood offerings I mentioned. Channing Tatum's appearance doesn't suggest that he would be a good dancer, but he both looks and feels the part, and his deadpan nature plays into the hands of the role, unlike his later performance in The Eagle.

The story of Step Up, by contrast, is incredibly conventional. It's the classic story of two people from completely different backgrounds whose only means to get what they want is to team up. Over the course of the film they swap tips and interests, gradually grow to like and respect each other, and after a brief cooling of their relationship, they decide they really need each other and triumph. This plot is among the most well-worn in film, but it is applied in a somewhat engaging way.

Step Up uses its two conflicting styles of music to reflect the flaws of the individual characters. Tyler's laid-back, devil-may-care attitude gives him the freedom to take his dance moves wherever they choose to go, but he lacks the ability to focus which could make him potentially dance for a living. Nora, by contrast, is a prisoner of rigidity, being so tightly bound by the rules and traditions of classical music and dance that she can neither innovate nor stimulate.

The relationship between our two main characters is a breaking down of barriers, with both sides learning to respect traits of the other. Tyler not only understands responsibility, but he actively seeks it, eventually commiting to putting on a killer show and making a living. Nora learns to loosen up and have fun, which makes her dancing more natural and appealing. Tatum and Jenna Dewan have good chemistry together, which eventually led to them getting married in 2009.

There is also a nice comment in the film about how snobbery and tradition can actually put off the most talented people in a given field. Tyler's natural talent is plain for all to see (except himself), and yet it's hard to imagine him being given a level playing field with the more privileged members of the school. The film does, however, become a little more cartoony in this respect, with Nora's dance partner Brett being very thinly-written.

Step Up also deserves credit for maintaining control over its tone. Many films which are melodramatic in nature feel the need to inject some kind of darkness partway through their plots in a desperate bid to be taken seriously. While the film isn't as nuanced as Fame in this regard, the dramatic twist involving the younger boy is handled delicately, so that it compliments the drama rather than pulling us out of it.

Step Up is a surprisingly decent dance film, which acquits itself perfectly well as both a physical showcase and a piece of storytelling. Aspects of it are cartoony or melodramatic, and it's hardly the most original or accomplished piece of cinema around. But it is a great deal more agreeable than many would lead us to believe. If only its narrative standards had been maintained for the sequels.
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