Movie Review – Step Up 2 The Streets (2008)

Director: Jon M. Chu

Stars: Briana Evigan, Robert Hoffman, Adam G. Sevani, Cassie Ventura, Danielle Polanco, Black Thomas, Harry Shum Jr.

Andie (Evigan) is trying to figure out where she fits in after the death of her parents. She’s living with her mother’s best friend, who is growing extremely frustrated with Andie’s attitude to school. Andie only has one family left though, the 410 dance crew. They are a renowned dance outfit that have gained attention for performing elaborate sets in public. Led by Tuck (Thomas), Andie is a valuable member. However, when her guardian threatens to send her away to Texas she’s forced to attend a formal dance school to show that she can actually stick to something. However, this causes friction with the 410 as she has to split rehearsal time, and it all comes to a head at the street dance competition.

Let me start by saying that I actually love this title. It’s a work of genius. Anyway, Step Up 2 the Streets puts the romance in the background and instead focuses on the stress of being caught between two worlds. There’s a cameo by Channing Tatum towards the beginning that links this film with Step Up but you don’t need to watch the first one in order to enjoy this one. There were some weak points of the script (mostly little things like plot conveniences) but overall I found it quite enjoyable.

I liked Evigan and thought she held the film together well. I liked her struggle about what to do and I think she was quite a strong protagonist. I certainly rooted for her, and she sold the emotional arc. I think the romance with Chase (Hoffman) was pretty predictable and I’m glad it wasn’t the focus. There was a loose love triangle with Tuck, although he just seemed really possessive and I never got the sense that he and Andie were involved properly. In fact, the major weak link is that the 410 are really thin characters and overly hostile. Tuck is basically Mr. Jealous and doesn’t get any deeper motivation than that. They purport to be a family but there’s no support there, it’s very much a method of control.

I did, however, like the parallel between family. Tuck saw the 410 as family and was totally controlling, quick to kick someone out if they didn’t conform with his idea. In the MSA the director of the school was also close-minded, as he had an idea of what the school should be and didn’t allow any creativity. By the end, Tuck wasn’t able to break free of his own need to control people whereas the leader of the dance school was able to see beyond his own needs and tradition.

The dancing was cool, with a vibrant trampoline number near the start. I appreciated the fact that the climactic dance took place in the rain as, in my opinion, all the most epic movie moments happen in the rain. It was all cool and everything was wrapped up nicely. So, I think you know what you’re getting into with this. However, it’s not a simple re-skin of the first film and while there could have been deeper exploration of the 410 to set the rivalry up more, it is a decent film. The main flaw is that it tries to do too much, as you have Andie adjusting to the MSA, having to juggle her new school with the street crew, then setting up the new crew, then the tournament along with some romance thrown in for good measure. It could have probably been streamlined as some of the supporting characters suffer, but if you like dance movies this is a decent one to watch.

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