Yes, we all saw it coming, the generic “Dirty Dancing” rip-off marketed with ease was eventually turned into a sequel to follow along the slew of products like “Stomp the Yard,” “Feel the Noise,” “You Got Served,” and every other urban dance flick that sound like slogans on Sean Jean T-Shirts. You have to give it to these studios; the dance movies sell, because like tobacco companies, they target these films to the Urban market. You can find these movies at any Cineplex in the Bronx and people definitely flock to them without so much as a complaint, but damned if you can see “No Country for Old Men.” They’re recycled, rehashed, and repackaged with the same plots, and a list of no name actors who are really required to do nothing but dance a lot and spout hip-at-the-moment one-liners for us, and they sell.
Now I’ll be honest, the only reason to watch “Step Up 2 the Streets,” and I mean the only reason, is Briana Evigan.
She’s gorgeous, she’s sexy, and she looks incredible freestyling. She’s a natural replacement for Channing Tatum possessing the same wooden charisma, flat dialogue delivery, and surprising appeal that may not propel her to stardom as quickly as it did for Tatum, even though he passes the torch over to her in an extended walk-on.
“Step Up 2,” or “Step Up 2 the Streets” is a preachy throwaway flick set in a world that’s about as dangerous as MTV allows, where the streets are actually called “the streets,” which happens to be a local club as well, and it’s a world where disputes and arguments are settled with, what else? Dancing and PG-13 trash talk with the occasional punch.
Now I will give the producers this: “Step Up 2” isn’t as bad as the first film, in fact it’s entertaining if you take it in a simply disposable fashion as the movies are meant. I don’t know, maybe I’ve been in the Bronx too long, but the storyline is much more layered than a simple wrong side of tracks man falling for a wealthy girl. There’s chemistry and entertainment to be had, and it’s not an awful ninety minutes.
“Step Up 2” re-uses much of the same set pieces from the first film to tell the story of a young hoodlum named Andy who is connected to a dance crew name 410. They pressure her to skip school to dance, and when her step mother decides to send her to Texas, Tyler Gage (Step Up) arrives to convince her to go to MSA to take dance. There she gets in with another crew and quits 410, and they declare “war,” taking it to “The Streets,” a local club where everyone dances. Andy and her crew of misfits decide to take on the skilled group and may just win to see another day.
What “Step Up 2” does to cushion the blow of the cardboard performances is an interesting slew of supporting characters who act as interesting antidotes to the typical clichés we find in these movies. And there’s also the dancing which is quite excellent to watch thanks to director Chu’s interesting perspective and cinematography. Ultimately it’s a ninety minute music video that will date in a few years time, but it’s an interesting musical with Evigan who pretty much hits the role as hard as she can and leaves with an interesting presence.
In the end though, “Step Up 2” is slightly more endurable than “How She Move,” and “You Got Served,” and though I may eat my words on this, it’s another of the many dance movies that fifteen years from now may just be admired in the same vein “Krush Groove” and “Breakin’” are. Whether that’s prophetic or just plain crazy, we’ll soon see.