4/24/12

Deadly Doll's Choice Baltimore Edition: Step Up 2: The Streets (2008)

In only a few short days, I, along with several other bloggers, podcasters, and other assorted ne’er-do-wells, will descend upon Baltimore for a weekend of conversation, BBQ, and assorted silliness at the home of a generous (though possibly foolish) friend. One of those attending the weekend is none other than Emily of The Deadly Doll's House of Horror Nonsense. So for this month's movie swap, we decided to swap movies set in our destination, Baltimore, Maryland. The easy way would have been to trade a couple of movies from Baltimore's sleaziest son, John Waters, but who wants to do it the easy way. Instead, we swapped a couple of lesser known Charm City based titles. For my pick, I selected the dramady Tin Men, starring Richard Dreyfus and Danny DeVito as rival aluminum siding salesmen in 60's Baltimore. So head over to The Deadly Doll's to check that out.For Emily's selection, she picked a movie I never thought there would be any set of circumstances in which I would need to view it. She chose for me Step Up Number Two Colon The Streets. I know the filmmaker chose a briefer name than I have given it, but I think my version may well be more accurate.

 As the film begins, we're introduced to Andie (Briana Evigan), an orphan whose hard knock life on the streets of Baltimore haven't lead her to a fate worse than The Wire, but rather into a dance crew called the 410. After pulling off a stunt in the subway in order to gain entry to an underground dance tournament called, you guessed it, "The Streets", Andie's godmother, who has been raising her, threatens to send her off to Texas to live with her Aunt. However, Andie gets one more chance, and after bucking the odds at the audition, she begins school at the Maryland School for the Arts. When her schooling comes between her and the 410, the dance crew kicks her out. So Andie recruits a gang of art school misfits to form a new dance crew and battle her old pals at "The Streets". Her two lives soon cross, and Andie gets kicked out of art school dashing her dancing dreams, but a last minute miracle on "The Streets" might just fix it all.


If the plot of Step Up Number Two Colon The Streets sounds like every teen, urban dance movie you've ever heard, then congratulations, you can imagine practically every twist and turn that the break neck world of break dancing can throw at you. Perhaps I'm just an old fogie. All this film made me do is long for Beat Street and Breakin', and I will be the first to tell you that those are not good movies. They're nostalgic, funny, entertaining, but not good. That makes Step Up Number 2 Colon The Streets exactly the same, minus the nostalgia factor, but I could see The Streets being someone half my age's Electric Boogaloo.  The dancing, which should be the film's best feature, was cool at points, but it was hard to tell where skill ended and movie magic began. I've seen dance crews on TV and live which have impressed me, but the movie routines didn't really get me going.

So that left me with the story, a wrong side of the tracks tale with the possibility of krumping. Granted I did end up liking some of the characters. Briana Evigan, as the lead Andie, reminded me of Rashida Jones, and remained likable enough that her inspiring speech at the movie's end got the strange split reaction of pride and uncontrollable laughter. I can't say that's ever happened before. Her romantic beau, Robert Hoffman, I found to be insufferable, and I wasn’t surprised his first two credits were in Gigli and From Justin to Kelly. Adam G. Sevani, who plays Moose, is the best surprise as I found him affable and entertaining in the kind of way Shia LaBeef was before he became a Michael Bay product. So it was disappointing to see that all he's done is continued playing Moose in Step Up flicks. The rest of the art school dance crew all entertained, but none of them had a performance that stood out. What really stood out is one of the worst performances I’ve seem just about anywhere, Will Kemp as headmaster Blake Collins. He's not been in anything else before or since, and honestly, that's for the best. Mr. Kemp, if you're out there, whatever career you chose is doing the world more good than ever trodding the boards again. Thank you.

Here's the thing about Step Up Number Two Colon The Streets that has me shaking in my boots, director Jon M. Chu. Before helming Step Up Number 2, Chu directed an indie called Silent Beats, which sounds like Spike Lee lite, a kid’s movie, and a "musical celebration of mothers" before his gritty portrayal of dancing on the mean streets of Baltimore. Now that's all well and good, but now it turns out that he's pirouetted his way away from lightning fast feet to Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. While the first G.I. Joe film was a massive letdown, I have real hopes for G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The trailer gets me pumped every time I see it, but that was before I knew Jon Chu was directing it. My only solace is to believe that, while the story of Step Up Number Two Colon The Streets was mediocre, there were a number of very well filmed scenes, particularly the dance numbers. So here's hoping that he treated G.I Joe right and it doesn't all boil down to a dance battle between Duke and Destro for world domination.

Sadly, the city of Baltimore didn't appear quite as much as I would have hoped. I love the architecture there. The rows of brownstones and streets that wind around the bay got no play, but the Maryland School of the Arts was an impressive structure and featured some of the classic urban style the city is known for. Charm City also has a reputation for being awash with violent crime, and while statistics show the city has struggled with a crime rate above the national average, some of that reputation can surely be attributed to a certain HBO show. The people of Jersey and Deadwood feel their pain. From the brief time I've spent in Baltimore so far, I loved what I saw of the city, and I can't wait to see more of it. Since Emily and I are going to be there together, we decided to do something special for May. So two weeks from now, on May 8, The Lightning Bug's Lair and Deadly Doll's House will present a special 2 part series of our adventures in Baltimore. Join us back here then, and I promise there will be at least 50% less dancing. Don't forget to go to the Deadly Doll's today for her review of the Baltimore-centric flick Tin Men. For now I think it's time I step down from Step Up 2: The Streets.


Bugg Rating

1 comment:

  1. Whoah, sir, whoah. Firstly, you clearly now need to see Step Up 3 because MOOSE IS THE STAR! Like, the absolute STAR! It's brilliant. Agreed on the terrible love interest, but I do like how the lead actress (who's been in a batch of horror movies) sounds like a 55 year old chain smoker.

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