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"STEP UP REVOLUTION"
(2012) (Ryan Guzman, Kathryn McCormick) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Musical: Dancers who perform together as a "flash mob" oppose a developer who wants to demolish their Miami neighborhood and build a massive, mixed-use development in its place.
PLOT:
In Miami, a mysterious group of flash mob dancers who call themselves "The Mob" have been disrupting public gatherings with their elaborate, staged routines. Their leader is Sean (RYAN GUZMAN), a waiter at one of the city's posh resorts who dreams of the group winning a $100,000 Internet video prize and avoiding humdrum, dead-end jobs. The Mob includes his best friend, Eddy (MISHA GABRIEL), who is a whiz at computers; special-effects guru Jason (STEPHEN "TWITCH" BOSS), who is also an insanely good choreographer; street artist Mercury (MICHAEL "XENO" LANGEBECK), who never speaks; and Penelope (CLEOPATRA COLEMAN), one of the best DJs on Miami Beach.

The Mob regularly hangs out at the salsa bar and nightclub in their neighborhood owned by Sean's uncle, Ricky (MARIO ERNESTO SANCHEZ). But a powerful real estate mogul named Anderson (PETER GALLAGHER) threatens that neighborhood with plans to bulldoze the district and erect a massive, mixed-use development that will include hotels, condos, and retail.

Anderson's daughter, Emily (KATHRYN McCORMICK), meanwhile, has come to Miami and dreams of being a professional dancer even though her father wants her to work for him. She meets Sean and is immediately taken with The Mob. The two fall in love and opt not to tell the rest of the group who she really is. But their secret eventually comes out, threatening not only their love affair, but the future of the Mob and their dream of saving their homes and businesses.

OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
I can't believe anyone who is planning to pay good money to see "Step Up Revolution" on the big screen and in RealD 3-D is expecting to see a good movie. What they will be going to see are the individual dance sequences and how they pop in 3-D. As a movie, this fourth in the series is pretty bad, full of amateur acting, clichéd characters, and unbelievably lame dialogue. But when all concerned just shut their traps, play their music, and put on their dancing shoes ... yeah, it's pretty darn entertaining.

HOWEVER, the only way I am recommending you see this film is on the biggest screen possible on opening weekend with a crowd, in a theater with a bright projection bulb, booming surround sound, and a reputation for great 3-D. Don't see it in 2-D. Don't go to the aging multiplex closer to your house as opposed to the brand spankin' new cinema a few miles down the road. Don't wait for the DVD or the Blu-Ray or for On Demand pay-per-view. Not if you have any interest whatsoever in seeing this flick. If you have ever gotten emotionally invested in an episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" or "Dancing With the Stars," I suspect you are the target audience for this.

Set in Miami (which looks great on the big screen, by the way), the film centers on a group of mysterious underground flash mob dancers who call themselves "The Mob" (they really are SO creative). They come together and stage elaborately choreographed dance routines in public places. The routines are filmed from different angles, edited, and put on the Internet in hopes that they will generate the most "hits" at the end of an online contest so the dancers can win a $100,000 cash prize and quit their ho-hum, humdrum, 9-to-5 day jobs. Since The Mob looks like it is made up of at least 100 dancers and performers, though, that will amount to about ... let's see, carry the one ... uh, about $1,000 each BEFORE taxes. Yeah, these ain't the most polished shoes in the hall closet, folks.

At any rate, the film begins with The Mob shutting down Miami's famed Ocean Avenue, and it's a pretty awesome sequence. I also enjoyed subsequent flash mob sequences in an art museum where the wall art and sculptures come to life trompe l'oeil style; a sequence in an office building lobby in which the dancers all wear suits and fake money falls from the ceiling; and (of course) the overstuffed, way-over-the-top finale involving dancers from the last couple of "Step Up" films.

It's hard to talk about the plot without feeling ashamed for the screenwriter and cast. But here goes. Rich girl Emily (Kathryn McCormick) wants to be a dancer, but her real estate mogul father (Peter Gallagher) wants her to work for him. She becomes attracted to Sean (Ryan Guzman), the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks who urges her to follow her dreams. Sean is also the leader of The Mob and he recruits Emily to dance with his crew, even though her father intends to bulldoze their entire neighborhood and put up a gaudy resort and condos.

I kind of wish the film had just gone way off the tracks at the end and had a dance throw-down between Gallagher and his dark-hearted 1 percent cronies and the 99 percent-ers represented by blue-collar Sean and his buddies. But, alas, it's all about sitting back and glorifying The Mob and their completely noble intentions (which, by the way, -- SPOILER ALERT -- include selling out to a major corporation at the very end). It's a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve and believes that pretty much everything can be solved with ... wait for it ... DANCE! But, again, to give it credit, what it absolutely had to get right, it gets right. The dance sequences are thrilling and eye-popping and worth the price of admission if this is your thing. I give it a qualified 5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed July 24, 2012/ Posted July 27, 2012


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