"STEP UP REVOLUTION" — ★★1/2 — Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Stephen Boss, Cleopatra Coleman, Misha Hamilton; PG-13 (some suggestive dancing and language); in general release
"Step Up Revolution" taps into the dance "flash mob" phenomenon and moves to Miami to give us the sunniest and most entertaining of these kids-gotta-dance musicals.
The flash mobs — in traffic, dancing on the roofs, hoods and trunks of low-rider vintage cars in Miami traffic, disrupting museum openings and a developer's planning meetings — are a brilliantly choreographed, well-shot and sharply-edited treat.
Well, except for one unfortunately timed stunt involving a darkened room, smoke bombs and menacing dancers charging in wearing gas masks. And another, with dancers imitating machine guns strafing a crowd. Sad that the news intrudes, inadvertently, on this late summer cotton-candy treat.
Sean (Ryan Guzman) is the heart and soul of "The Mob," a Miami dance crew that has its own DJ (Cleopatra Coleman), hacker-planner (Misha Hamilton), dancer/special effects guy (Stephen Boss) and street artist who "tags" each of their events with "The Mob" (Michael Langebeck). That's not to mention their parkour "stunt" specialists and the videographer who hides his camera in the darnedest places whenever they go out on "a mission."
Stopping traffic and choreographing the jolly, bouncing low-riders they roll up in has got to be preserved and uploaded to YouTube. They want to attract so many YouTube hits that they win a contest and collect some cash. Because these dancers are from the one underdeveloped corner of Miami riverfront left — and the wrong side of the tracks.
Sean and Eddy (Hamilton) work in a swank hotel whose developer/ owner (Peter Gallagher) has designs on the neighborhood the dancers call home. But his daughter Emily (Kathryn McCormick) is a dancer, too.
And being as attractive as Sean and his beyond-good-looking crew, she's ready to add to her modern-dance repertoire and go undercover for a little dance on the wild side.
Emily needs to free herself to have a shot at breaking into a daring local professional dance troupe. Sean needs cash and to be noticed, to have "a voice." And the crew will need help from kids from the earlier "Step Up" movies (this is the fourth) to pull off their biggest mission.
Director Scott Speer from "The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers" knows where to point his camera, knows how to cut to the beat. Everything from parkour-style stunts and mime to salsa, crunking and interpretative dance is given its showcase here. And tapping into flash mobs, those Internet-posted delights in which singers or dancers show up, en masse, and delight a mall, a train station or a city street? Inspired.
But it's not just the choreography that sells this over-familiar story. Speer peoples the screen with legions of jaw-droppingly gorgeous dancers, actors and extras ?— shaking what they've got in 3-D. Whatever Miami got for posing as the 1980s Sunset Strip for "Rock of Ages," this under-scripted, super-sexy cinematic postcard is the one the tourist board should post on its website.
Come to Miami. Bring your bikini. And your dancing shoes.
"Step Up Revolution" is rated PG-13 for some suggestive dancing and language; running time: 97 minutes.
3 Points for Parents
Nudity and sensuality: This story is based in Miami, so beaches and resorts are everywhere. The filmmakers must have hired a whole modeling agency to get this many girls in bikinis. Some men are seen with no shirt on. Many of the dance moves throughout the film are very suggestive.
Language: The characters do not use much profanity. However, there are some lyrics in the music that some may not like or will even find offensive, despite the lyrics being difficult to understand.
Moral messages? The one good thing about this film is that despite long odds, the dance groups stays true to their goal. Unfortunately, it is also shown as being on the edge of breaking the law. At one point, two members are arrested.
This film would be OK for ages 15-plus. After checking the lyrics for the songs in this film, I hope they used the clean versions in the movie — because they would give the film an R rating. We may never know since the lyrics are hard to understand.
— Shawn O'Neill