Step Up: All In
2014, PG-13, 112 min. Directed by Trish Sie. Starring Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, as Adam Sevani, Misha Gabriel, Stephen "tWitch" Boss, Stephen "Stev-O" Jones, David "Kid David" Shreibman, Mari Koda.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Aug. 15, 2014
Maybe the term “all in” doesn’t mean the same thing to all people. Like how my idea of blue may not be the same blue you’re seeing. Because “all in” – to me, at least – suggests a certain standard of enthusiasm, of emphaticness, and what this latest Step Up movie indifferently chunks out falls far short of that standard.
Mining its dance crew from previous outings in this harmlessly addictive dance franchise, Step Up: All In revives the male lead (Guzman) from Step Up Revolution and the female (Evigan) from Step Up 2the Streets and puts them through the same paces familiar to all the Step Up movies: meet, clash, eventually canoodle. (Yes, canoodle. While the dance moves get down and dirty, the love stories tap out at light petting.) The pair run a new crew who travel to Vegas to compete for a three-year residency at Caesars Palace – a competition that occasions impressive Cirque du Soleil-like costuming and production design, as well as the opportunity for So You Think You Can Dance fans to squee over past contestants’ cameos.
Up until now, the Step Up movies have gotten better and worse in equal measure: The ambition and skill of the dance set-pieces has improved picture to picture, even as the script quality and collective charisma of the actor/dancers has steadily declined. (The wooden acting, the wincing dialogue – it’s so terrible, the series wears it like a badge of honor.) But this latest breaks the cycle in the worst way: Even the dancing disappoints. The many battles have fewer drop-jaw moments and they tend to strike the same note – assaultive. Only a frolicking duet set to Bobby Brown breaks the monotony. Here’s to the next Step Up – and there’s always a next Step Up – lightening up already.