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When Step Up 2 The Streets appeared on my doorstep, I was apprehensive. I try to keep something of an open mind when I watch a film. “Ok,” I tell myself, “Step Up 2 The Streets might be good, it might have good dancing, or maybe even some decent acting. I knew, however, there was very little chance I would like this movie. I was right.
Step Up 2 The Streets announces itself as movie full of silly incomprehensible plot holes in the first couple of minutes. A group of urbanish young adults enter a Baltimore subway car, don masks, and break into a hip-hoppity dance routine. The subway riders not involved in the street theater (all three of them, since it seems almost everyone in the car ultimately puts a mask on) deal with this annoyance the way you would expect; they scream for the cops. Huh? And the cops come running, because there is nothing more menacing in Baltimore than kids dancing. Wha? The kids, of course, escape using some of their mad dancing skilz. The news is full of their “lawless” adventures. I guess the drug murders in Baltimore were a little slow that night.
The dance crew goes by the name Four One Oh and includes Andie (Briana Evigan), who has all the street dancer cred of Miley Cyrus in an askew baseball cap and belly shirt. Andie’s wild street dancing antics (what could be worse!) have exasperated her guardian and have her in danger of getting sent to live with her aunt in Texas. Fortunately, Andie’s cousin Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum in a brief cameo), who was the subject of the first Step Up movie, helps her get into the Maryland School of the Arts, a snooty performance school run by snooty Blake Collins (William Kemp), and full of snooty ballerinas. Fortunately Blake’s brother, the non-snooty Chase (Robert Hoffman), is down with street dancing and often pulls his hoodie up over his hat, so he and Andie bond.
Andie, naturally, doesn’t fit in at MSA and is also booted from the Four One Oh after joining the snooty school. Boy, who saw that coming? Everyone! Can you guess the next “step”? Andie and Chase grab up all the misfits from MSA and faster than you can say “I want to learn how to fly. . .high!” form their own dance crew. There is only one thing that this dance crew can do - join “The Streets” dance-off and beat down those punks from the Four One Oh. Word. Do the kids still say Word?
All of this street dancing and street living and street cred is very Disneyfied and while the look is slightly rougher than High School Musical, we are definitely in the same territory. The plot is every “hey, let’s grab all these losers and be winners by being ourselves, which is a-ok” movie you’ve ever seen. Most of the dancers can’t act very well and Evigan (daughter of famous truck-driving monkey owner Greg Evigan) is not a particularly strong dancer.
The dancing is, naturally, supposed to be the thing with this movie. It’s really a bunch of music videos strung together with a paper thin plot. It does save the film from being a total disaster as almost anyone can recognize the skill at work in some of the routines. Unfortunately, you can see that skill at work in every other music video on four or five different cable channels every hour of every day of the week. Why sit through this crummy movie to watch it?
The word is that Step Up 2 The Streets made enough to justify a third film in the series. I’m sure it will somehow involve a street kid and a rich kid coming together to show everyone how the power of dance and nice abs can bring people together. Hopefully that DVD will show up on someone else’s door.
The DVD is billed as the “Dance-Off” Edition. I’m not sure if you can get a non-“Dance-Off” version, but I sincerely doubt it. There are quite a few extras so someone who liked the movie (teenage suburban girls, I would guess) will get a little bit more of the same with the DVD.
Although there is no commentary track, Director John M. Chu does provide commentary to the eight deleted scenes. The scenes total 16 minutes and provide some additional plot information, but are probably the most interesting thanks to the inclusion of two deleted dance routines. According to the box, the deleted dance scenes are from Jabbawockeez and West Coast Riders, never heard of them, but they are pretty talented. There is also a song montage sung by Cassie Ventura that was cut from the film.
Since the movie is little more than a group of loosely connected music videos, it stands to reason the DVD would have more music videos than I can previously remember seeing. Flo Rida, Missy Elliott, Cherish, Piles, and Brit & Alex provide videos. Most of the videos have scenes from the movie, so you get to see the whole thing again! Lucky you.
The disc also includes two decent featurettes. The ironically titled “Through Fresh Eyes: The Making of Step Up 2” talks about why the movie was made, the rehearsal process, the characters, the actors, and focuses quite a bit on director Chu and the impressive list of choreographers. I think it’s an impressive list anyway, I’ve never heard of them, but they are discussed like they taught Fred Astaire to kick-it Old Skool. It has tons of quick cuts and was put together for people with the same attention span issues that make music videos so popular. That said, Chu seems like a nice guy and he does genuinely have a passion for street dancing, which comes out in the featurette.
The second featurette is “Outlaws of Hip Hop” and covers the dancers who are part of the fictional Four One Oh crew. They are shown in rehearsal and talk about how they got into dance and why they love it. It’s always nice to hear people with skill discuss their love of what they do.
The final extra is a prank video by Robert Hoffman. It’s stupid. The two featurettes don’t make this DVD interesting enough to purchase or even rent. It’s a nice crisp transfer but that can’t compensate for all the deficiencies. Better to just flip on your cable TV and watch a few hip-hop videos.
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