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"STEP UP: ALL IN"
(2014) (Luis Guzman, Briana Evigan) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Dance drama: A plethora of young performers converge on Las Vegas to compete on a dance competition TV show.
PLOT:
After winning the contest in the last "Step Up" movie, The Mob dance team has had a tough time trying to make it as full-time dancers in Los Angeles. The group's leader, Sean (LUIS GUZMAN), vows to stick it out at all costs ... especially now that he has nothing to lose since his girlfriend from the last film has left him. But best pals Eddy (MISHA GABRIEL HAMILTON), Jason (STEPHEN BOSS), and the rest quit and go back to Miami. Determined to prove them wrong, he sees an ad in the trades for The Vortex, a team dance competition TV show hosted by Alexxa Brava (IZABELLA MIKO) that's now accepting video auditions for its upcoming new season.

Sean sets about forming a new team, first recruiting his old buddy Moose (ADAM G. SEVANI) who has become a husband and a full-time engineer since he last danced competitively. Together, they recruit a team that includes Andie (BRIANA EVIGAN), a dancer who previously hurt her ankle and has turned to fashion; Chad (DAVID SCHREIBMAN), a dance teacher eager to stop teaching older women how to do the cha-cha; Violet (PARRIS GOEBEL), a tough waitress eager to quit her go-nowhere job and take a chance on her skills; Jenny (MARI KODA), an Asian-American dancer with a sunny attitude; and several others.

Their main competition is the Black Knights, a team led by the arrogant, but super-talented Jasper (STEPHEN STEVO JONES). Sean also has his past to deal with when Eddy and the rest of The Mob show up to compete and are hurt that he has moved on and formed a new team. They all come together for a spectacular finale after finding out that Jasper and Alexxa are in cahoots to rig the contest.

OUR TAKE: 5.5 out of 10
For films not screened for the reviewing press, we only provide a few paragraphs of critical analysis.

Here is the constant dilemma the producers of the "Step Up" movies have. Do they hire dancers and try and get credible acting performances out of them? Or do they hire actual actors and try and teach them to dance? For the most part, they have gone with the former ... and I think it has been the right decision. You don't go to a "Nightmare on Elm Street" movie for the acting. You go for the gore and creative kills. You don't go to an "Expendables" film to see tender moments and heartfelt emoting. You go to see old guys blowing stuff up real good. And you don't go to a "Step Up" flick to see Streep or Day-Lewis caliber performances. You go to have your senses blown with some crazy dance moves.

On that basic level, the new entry in the series -- "Step Up: All In" -- delivers. The film centers around Ryan Guzman from the fourth "Step Up" and Briana Evigan from the second "Step Up" coming together, forming a new team of hoofers, and competing on a nationally televised dance competition that is kind of a cross between "So You Think You Can Dance" and "The Hunger Games."

Here's my short review. When the kids are dancing, it's thrilling. When they're not dancing and are talking to each other, you'll want to take those opportunities to go to the restroom, visit the snack bar, and make sure you know where all of the theater exits are in case of an emergency. Fortunately, there is a dance sequence about every eight to 10 minutes, and the climactic final dance-off is truly spectacular (although the best sequence in the film is a simple routine in which the lead male and female playfully spar-dance with each other while listening to Bobby Brown's late '80s classic "Every Little Step.") What can I say? The film entertained me. I give this a 5.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed August 7, 2014 / Posted August 8, 2014


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