With much hesitation, I deposited Step Up 2: The Streets (get it?) into my DVD player this morning, not expecting much. The original Step Up was surprisingly decent, for a dance movie. Still, it was not the need for a continuation but a response to the bucket loads of money Step Up made that forced a sequel, and thus expectations were low.
Thankfully, Step Up 2: The Streets is pretty entertaining and on par with the original in most ways. The movie contains everything a dance movie needs: a respectable screenplay, good-looking actors and yes, some pretty good dancing. Channing Tatum, the star of the first movie, shows up at the beginning for an extended cameo, just enough time to pass the puck to pretty Briana Evigan, a rough-edged orphan who takes Tatum up on his offer to try out for a spot at a prestigious arts school. She's accepted, but find her style of dancing doesn't fit in with everyone else's. Thankfully, the most popular guy at school (Robert Hoffman) sees something in her, and along with several other students they form a team to compete in a street competition.
If you like dance movies, you'll probably like Step Up 2. It has some pretty creative dancing and a decent-enough plot to connect those scenes together. Step Up 2 avoids a lot of the pitfalls dancing movies seem to share, or at least keeps them to a minimum. The main character doesn't go on too many rants about how "for the first time in my life, I have something to live for" and "without dancing, I have nothing," thankfully. A few, but not many. But more importantly, the characters are likable, the women good looking and the dancing pretty good.
In comparison to the first one, the most noticeable difference is there is a clearly defined romance. Tatum and Jenna Dewan were a pretty steamy couple, and the dancing revolved around the two of them almost exclusively. In Step Up 2, the movie takes a half-hearted stab at some sizzle between Evigan and Hoffman, but when they hook up at the end, it seems like an afterthought. This is fine, but there seems to be a lot less on the line in this round. Furthermore, while Evigan turns in a pretty good performance and looks pretty hot, especially at the end where she's dancing in a torn tank top in the rain, her character isn't nearly as interesting, or rebellious, as Tatum's.
As dancing movies go, Step Up 2: The Streets is pretty good. It isn't quite as good as the first one, as the two lead actors lack real chemistry, but it's entertaining little fare.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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