Go for It!
, which tied for an Audience Award at the 2011 Cine las Americas International Film Festival, bears many of the traditional markings of the dance-competition genre (the Step Up
movies): the self-taught dancer with a humble background, the inspirational teacher, the mismatched love interest. But this Chicago-based drama from first-time writer/director Carmen Marron is only passably interesting as a dance film (there are only a few big set-pieces, and none of them stand out); it's far more involving as a coming-of-age story. Professional dancer Aimee Garcia plays Carmen Salgado, a directionless student and dedicated member of an all-female hip-hop crew. Marron does a fine job evoking just how overextended Garcia is, juggling her studies, dance, an after-school job, a home life that is vibrant with laughter and food and family infighting, and a demanding but dear childhood friend, Gina (played by the hugely charismatic Rodriguez). While Carmen and Gina's bond is only one of Go For It!
's sidelong concerns, the portrait miniature painted here of the girls' relationship – rowdy and fiercely loving – is magnificent. But just as Carmen overextends herself, so does the filmmaker. There are half-cooked subplots (including one involving that inspirational teacher), confusingly compressed timelines, and enough awkward edits to make it impossible to full-throatedly endorse this earnest and sympathetic but unsophisticated debut.