Step Up

Directed By: Anne Fletcher and Mico Heltborg

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, Mario, Drew Sidora, Alyson Stoner, Rachel Griffiths, and Josh Henderson

Every time I begin to wonder why Hollywood keeps shoveling crap into theaters, I'm reminded that we keep buying it for some strange reason.  I can think of no better example than the Step Up movies.  By any measure, these films suck, but people keep buying tickets to see them for whatever reason.  Ultimately, our lack of good taste as moviegoers is what keeps this machine going.  With the upcoming joke of a film Step Up: Revolution, I've decided to torture myself and revisit the first three Step Up films.  From the moment I sat down to watch the movies, I regretted this decision. 

Step Up is the story of Baltimore native Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum).  After partying with his friends Mac (Damaine Radcliff) and Skinny (De'Shawn Washington), Tyler and his friends break into the Maryland School for the Arts and vandalize their theater.  Doing thousands of dollars in damage, they're eventually caught in the act by a school security guard on night duty.  Noble and stupid, Tyler takes the fall for his friends and is sentenced to 200 hours of community service at the Maryland School for the Arts.

On Tyler's first day of completing his service at the school, Director Gordon (Rachel Griffiths) assigns Tyler to janitorial duties.  A talented street dancer, Tyler watches the student dancers practicing their routines as he cleans the school.  Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan) catches his eye.  She's a senior working on her showcase performance which will ultimately determine whether she has a future as a professional with a dance company. 

When Nora's partner Andrew (Tim Lacatena) sprains his ankle and drops out, Tyler sees an opportunity to get away from mopping floors and to do something that actually interests him.  With the blessing of Director Gordon, Tyler partners with Nora to help her prepare for the showcase.  As a romance begins to bloom between Tyler and Nora, Tyler finds himself spending more time at the Maryland School for the Arts and less time with his friends Mac and Skinny.

I know what you're thinking.  I should give Step Up a chance.  Despite its many flaws, I should relax my standards a bit because it has some enjoyable dance routines.  I should give it a pass.  However, I can't do that.  The fact that Step Up is a dance movie does not give me a legitimate reason to lower my standards as a moviegoer.  The same can be said for sports flicks, musicals, or action movies.  All these types of films require more than just acting.  You need to have some sort of talent to compete, sing, or kick ass.  Alternatively, you need to have a double.  I don't give any other flick a break.  I certainly can't do this for Step Up.

The movie is utterly predictable.  It's rife with clichés and stereotypes.  There's plenty of bad acting.  Hell, the dancing doesn't even wow me — not even in the final performance during the senior showcase.  With crappy filmmaking abound, I have a hard time trying to enjoy Step Up.  Pointless jokes about Channing Tatum wearing tights certainly don't help either.

Admittedly, there are some positive aspects to Step Up that make this movie better than later installments in the franchise.  Though Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan deliver terrible performances overall, they have romantic chemistry when they're together on screen.  Obviously, they got married in real life down the road so something clicks when they're together on camera.  Additionally, there are some mildly amusing moments that make the film halfway bearable.

Step Up is the beginning of the plague of crappy dance movies that haunts us to this day.  For better or worse, it also marks the debut of Channing Tatum.  Though not as bad as future installments, Step Up is the beginning of the end of good taste in teen movies.  With all this in mind, I need a drink.  I'm thinking a few gin and tonics will get the job done.  Step Up gets a 0.09% rating.