Touchstone Pictures // 2008 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // July 15th, 2008
Moose: Yeah, we're her crew! We're getting ready to battle at the
Felicia: What street? Sesame Street?
Step Up 2: The Streets is probably better on DVD than it was in theatres, because you can skip around and watch only what you come in to a movie like this for...the hip hop dancing. It's a project that follows the same rules Purple Rain established for a modern musical: they got very good dancers, didn't worry much about the script, assembled a strong soundtrack, and let the performers do what they do best as often as they could. If you're looking for hot music and dancing, this is the DVD to pick up, but don't expect great acting or a script that makes tons of sense. Step Up 2 is stylish enough to know where its strengths are and smart enough to showcase the dancing, while keeping the music loud and thumping to distract from the tinny dialogue.
The plot doesn't have much connection to Step Up other than it takes place at a performing arts school in Baltimore, Maryland. The story this time is about Andie West (Briana Evigan, House of the Dead) a girl who belongs to an urban hip hop dance crew called "the 410" (a name that comes from the Baltimore area code). Her mother recently died of cancer, and she lives with her mom's best friend who is concerned about raising her charge right. Because her guardian senses Andie is hanging out too much with thug types, she gives her an ultimatum to straighten up or go live with her aunt in (gasp!) Texas. On the advice of her friend and older brother figure (Channing Tatum from the first film), she auditions for a prestigious performance program. Andie gets in to the Maryland School of Arts and begins to learn how to dance classically. All the ballet practices make her miss too many rehearsals of the 410, and she gets thrown out. Andie decides to assemble her own crew of outcasts from the dance program, and they will compete in the big dance-off known only as "The Streets."
I came in to this dreading it was going to be terrible, but it truly wasn't. Sure, the whole thing feels like a dumbed down version of Fame, but the dancing is impressive, and I loved the music. The dancers aren't great actors, but they pull off the impressive, well-photographed choreography. The two biggest numbers in the subway and in a rainstorm are reason enough to check out the DVD. There's plenty of clichéd material, including: a multiracial cast of dancers, the sappy love triangle, the overbearing ballet teacher who is against hip hop, cornball speeches about what dancing means, and the whole "you better bring it" vibe. The whole thing could have been just one long music video, and by the climax that is what Step Up 2: The Streets becomes. Yet there's an undeniable thrill in seeing street crews battle each other while Flo Rida and T-Pain crank out "Low."
The DVD package knows what we're here for, and the supplemental material enhances the experience. Included are deleted scenes that include extended dance sequences from the Jabbawockeez and West Coast Riders, both recognizable real dance crews that have been seen in reality show contests. Also featured is a "cut for time" vocal performance by singer Cassie who is in the film as part of the love triangle. We've got featurettes that let us meet the cast and first time director Jon M. Chu, as well as a dance prank executed by lead actor Robert Hoffman (You Got Served). Probably the main draw is that music videos are included from Flo Rida, Missy Elliott, Cherish, Plies, and Brit & Alex. Everything is a whole lot of fun in the extras department. The transfer is crisp and lively, though the film itself is so heavily filtered details are sometimes hard to make out. Visually everything is super stylized, but there are no digital artifacts to reckon with. The sound mix is a touch light on dialogue, but pumps out the music score with thumping force from all five speakers.
Apparently Step Up 2: The Streets did well enough at the box office that the rather predictable Step Up 3-D is due to hit theatres sooner rather than later. I can understand these types of films would be great crowd pleasers, and certainly Step Up 2: The Streets delivers exactly what it promises. As a sequel, there is less story and little connection to the first movie, but most people are coming to this film for the music and the dancing. Both the soundtrack and the choreography are amazing, and the two come highly recommended. The plot is fluffy, the actors are better dancers, and there's not much else to hang on to. The DVD itself has tons of cool extras including music videos of some of the best tracks found in the project. Step Up 2: The Streets is simply a fun little dance movie with a cute cast doing amazing hip hop moves.
Review content copyright © 2008 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Music Videos
* Outtake of Cassie Performing "Is It You"
* Video Prank by Actor Robert Hoffman
* "Meet the 410" Featurette
* Making of Featurette