Posted by: Dr P | June 10, 2008

Step Up 2 the Streets

When a midweek cinematic outing appeared on the horizon, I was most excited. After all, dear readers, it’s been weeks since I graced you with one of my reviews (or 10 paragraphs of drivel as I prefer to think of them). There was a somewhat limited choice for this outing, but this flick immediately put its head up above the parapet. I do love a good boogie. Whilst my style might be described less as “street” and more as “geek”, I like to imagine I can bust the odd move. So why not see how the real street dance “crew” cut it? See, I even know the lingo. Word. Now normally I’d approach films whose title contains txt spk in much the same way as a young lamb might approach a taxi marked “Next Stop – Abbatoir”, but this was too good to pass up.

The crowd at Vue Bury appeared to comprise a majority of 10-20 year olds, who were in a somewhat rowdy state. This was initially annoying, but as the film progressed, it actually enhanced the atmosphere somewhat.

OK, let’s cut to the chase and bring in a quick overview of the movie. “Andie”, our lycra-clad heroine, is on last-chance saloon with her guardian, and has enrolled at the Maryland School of Arts in a bid to harness her undoubted dancing talents into a more mainstream career. Unfortunately she is also part of a notorious street “crew” called the 410 (that’s “four one oh” as opposed to “four hundred and ten”). Oddly if any of our American viewers dial 410 they get the Pizza Hut orderline, so I’m not sure what that’s all about. OK, there’s a blatant fib in that last sentence. Did you spot it? Correct, the number goes through to Burger King. As a quick digression, fans of historical epic “300” (“three hundred” not “three oh oh”) are urged to go and see “Meet the Spartans”, which is the ultimate mickey-take of that, and other recent movies. Indeed, we can pull this paragraph conveniently together by saying that this latter film does indeed have the Spartan crew busting out some street moves in true three oh oh style! Respec’!

ANYWAY, Andie and cohorts open the film by hijacking a subway tram and busting out some moves and generally terrorising the occupants of the carriages. There is one INSANE move where one of the black dancers does a fantastic bounce under a seat and back out in rapid time. You have to see it to appreciate it but it was at that point that my feet started twitching. And they didn’t stop thereafter. The 410 crew is a front for plenty of gang-like activity (basketball and robberies apparently), and when Andie’s guardian realises she is part of the crew she threatens to send her to stay with relatives in Texas. So it’s off to the Maryland School of Arts (MSA) – last chance saloon. This turns out to be a haven for talented kids, many of whom have hidden talents and appear to come from an incredibly diverse set of backgrounds – a bit like the Intute technical team (shout out to my posse).

Unfortunately for “Di” as she is known to her 410 comrades, the demands of school do not mesh with the demands of a street crew, and she is forced out by the crew leader, who is a walking black stereotype. Indeed, much of the hilarity in this film comes from hearing this guy say things like “Yo, Di, whaddup?” and “Where You At, Girl”. Just brilliant! So in retaliation, Andie decides to start up her own crew, egged on by “Chase”, the stereotypical star pupil at MSA who also just happens to be a bit of a rebel (and brother of the school’s principal). So they put together a crew culled from the school misfits, all of whom turn out to have dance skills that would not be out of place in a Black Eyed Peas video. They’re frankly superb. Chief among them is an Oriental girl who speaks really silly English, each time provoking guffaws of laughter from the young crowd in the cinema. Most entertaining.

The immiment “Streets” dancing competition lends the rivalry between the groups an extra edge, and this spills out into full-on turf battles, one good kicking for Chase at the hands of our stereotyped black guys, and a trashing of the MSA practice rooms. However, as you might expect, our motley crew (sorry) resolve to fight on and ultimately confront the 410 at the Streets in a sensational dance-off climax to the film.

I have had this amazing fascination for years with people who can run up to a wall and do a backflip, and if it’s the last thing I ever do, I want to try it once. Mind you, it might well be if I land wrong so perhaps not a good plan. You can only imagine my INTENSE joy at about the 80 minute mark when someone actually did this in the film. It provoked some hilarity in our little corner of the cinema anyway. My own crew, Matt “In the Navy” Hunt and Phil “Daddy” Mac, will be thrilled to know that I’ve already created my first body popping move in honour of this film, complete with sound effects. Coming to a Bury dancefloor very soon.

This is a frankly hilarious film, often unintentionally so, but if you have any interest whatsoever in street dance or just laughing at racial stereotypes, this is the film for you! It is pure cheese, but the dance routines are often jaw-dropping. Rumours of a white, middle class version of this movie called “Step Up 2 the Boulevard” are as yet unfounded.


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