Movies have always made us big believers in the power of dance to affect social change. In Footloose, for example, God’s own morality police were no match for teens with the urge to cut loose.
Step Up Revolution takes it a step further, showing us what the Occupy movement could accomplish with the proper choreography and off-the-hook moves, yo!
With a calculatedly-grafted-on social conscience (and, I assume, the Urban Dictionary website open throughout the writing process), the Step Up franchise has managed to find a semi-plausible reason to still exist for a fourth go-round.
The result is admittedly terrific choreography, punctuated with the most laughable dialogue and plotting in the entire series (yes, I’ve seen them all, going back to Channing Tatum). Taken on its own terms, that can add up to a certain amount of empty-headed fun, if you’re in the mood and target demographic.
Step Up Revolution’s cardboard plot involves wannabe dancer Emily (Kathryn McCormick), the daughter of hotel magnate Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher, whose caterpillar-like brows bespeak sinister intent).
Emily’s ambitions don’t jibe with her dad, who’d prefer that she follow him into the business of buying up poor people’s homes, throwing them onto the street, and putting up condos for the 1%. He gives her an ultimatum, “I’ll give you ‘til the end of the summer. If you’re not a professional dancer by then, you work for me.” No mention of whether or not she’s allowed to use a pole.
The doyenne of the Miami dance academy tells her she’s got great technique, but lacks originality. Enter love interest Sean (Ryan Guzman), one of the waiters at her dad’s hotel, and secretly one of the organizers of “The Mob,” an imaginative dance crew (with a speedy street artist pal who tags while the others dance). Their specialty, impromptu “flash mob” dance sequences in traffic-jammed streets, at gallery openings, and anywhere you’d least expect synchronized dancing to break out to loud hip-hop music.
Their goal: to get 10 million hits on YouTube and win a cash prize.
Emily joins The Mob surreptitiously, since her dad has plans to tear down The Mob’s ‘Hood (in his world, they call that Tuesday), meaning she’s betraying both family and friends simultaneously in search of her freestyle dance groove. Dancepack leader Eddy (Misha Gabriel) is suspicious of her throughout.
The great thing about Step Up Revolution is its simple, bald-faced faith that a great last-act dance performance will sway city hall, soften a billionaire’s heart and even get the Mayor dancing.
Picture your Mayor getting jiggy in response to a protest and doing a complete 180 on any issue as a result, and you can’t help but giggle.
But that’s the world Step Up Revolution lives in. If you got a beat and you can dance to it, crime, poverty and urban blight are sooo whatever.