There really wasn’t anything original about Step Up, a movie that threw together a pair of characters from different cultural backgrounds and allowed them to find their similarities and their romance through music and dance. That story’s been done numerous times before, but Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan looked good enough, both physically and with their dance moves, to keep the movie entertaining, despite its lack of originality, resulting in a picture with a lot of charm and style, if little substance.
We live in the age of the sequel, however, and Step Up was a monster hit with the teenage crowd, so what can Tatum and Dewan offer for a second picture? The simple answer to that question is nothing, since neither character is featured in Step Up 2 the Streets, with only Tatum’s Tyler Gage putting in a brief appearance to let fans know what’s happening with Tyler and Nora (they’re going on tour) and to pass the baton to his younger cousin, Andie (Briana Evigan), a troubled young girl who is more interested in dancing with her street crew than anything else. Unfortunately, she’s worn out her welcome and is about to be sent to live with her aunt in Texas, until Tyler gets her the chance to attend the Maryland School of the Arts.
Much like Tyler in the last movie, Andie is a fish out of water at the art school. She’s a street dancer where everyone else is more classically trained. Fortunately, Andie isn’t actually alone as it turns out there are a lot of hidden street dancers at the school, all of whom are known by big man on campus, Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman), a classically trained dancer with more interest in Andie’s style of street dancing. See – this is a completely different movie from Step Up. Instead of a young male hoodlum, we have a young female, and instead of a female socialite, we have a male, and instead of turning the street dancer into a trained dancer, we’re corrupting everyone else into street dancers.
Actually, sarcasm aside, this is a completely different movie from the first Step Up, because there is absolutely none of that meshing of classical style with street dancing that made the first movie visually interesting. Instead this is all about people wanting to freestyle and dance in street competitions. Different styles of dance have no place in this movie and barely even appear on the screen. Instead we just see the same krumping and rehashed breakdancing throughout the picture.
Much like the dancing, the character and, frankly the story as a whole, follow that same lack of change and reaction to the world around them. Andie has the same conflict with her crew that Tyler had with his street friends in the first movie. However, there’s really no coming around this time – they just don’t like her attending the school. Andie and her friends have to convince the new head of the art school that street dancing is a viable form of dance. Miraculously he comes around. There’s no such thing as a slow build or a transition in the movie. Things just happen, or they don’t.
A friend of mine remarked that they were surprised Step Up 2 the Streets didn’t just go straight to video like other similar franchises (Bring It On for example). After seeing the movie, I have to say the same thing. Step Up 2 truly is a straight to DVD type movie, cashing in on the Step Up title but lacking everything that made the first movie fun, from the unoriginal (but still entertaining) storyline to the well-choreographed final dance number. This sequel lacks all of the charm and style of the first movie, with nothing new offered to make up for it.