Step Up 3D

Release Date: August 6, 2010

Uh oh. I think we just got served.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
47/123 David Mumpower This is the best Step Up movie, which is like being the best behaved Baldwin brother.
163/190 Max Braden I wish I knew the name of the guy who does the robot, he was great. Also a great final performance. The rest is right out of The Disney Channel.

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The teen movie genre has a long, storied history and with each generation of adolescents, new movies tailored just for them attempt to capture the zeitgeist of their era. Rock Around the Clock, Beach Blanket Bingo, Grease, Nearly Every John Hughes Movie Ever, American Pie...the list is as endless and varied as the demographic for which they're made. Some have been successful and others have been long forgotten, but there's a consistent lesson to be taken from each of them. Regardless of the amount of money or the level of creativity spent on a project, success is rarely a matter of calculation. More often than not it's simply a matter of luck. Teens are equal parts discerning and indiscriminate, so tapping into what moves them is almost always a moving target.

Adolescence is something every adult has already experienced, yet very few teens are willing to accept the advice of an adult. So in an effort to understand themselves, youth often turn to films made by adults and starring adults pretending to be teens in order to find relevance. The irony is baffling to parents but endlessly profitable to the entertainment industry, and the cycle has made a lot of people handsomely rich over the years. But anything that already works can be improved, honed and polished to almost diabolical perfection when placed in the right hands. Thus I give you what is perhaps the most fascinating sub-genre of the teen film: the dance film, of which I say there are three basic varieties:

There is Dance Movie Template Number One, "Two Rival Cliques Settle Their Differences Through Competitive Dance," such as Bring it On. There is "Rebellion Against Authority Through Interpretive Dance," a la Footloose. And then there is Number Three, "Defiant Loner Meets Classy Girl and Learns to Love by Dancing." I refer here to Step Up, which was something of a sleeper hit for Disney in 2006 and launched the careers of newlywed/nearly 30-year-old teen sensations Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan. The formula was altered slightly for 2008's Step Up 2: The Streets, with sensational results. Utilizing an almost identical budget (and story), Step Up 2 more than doubled the box office of the first film, guaranteeing another sequel well before the end of its opening frame.

Step Up has been the type of franchise whose success predictably lies in setting modest expectations and then exceeding them. With a tried and true mix of attractive young actors, electrifying footwork, a hip contemporary soundtrack and an easy to digest story, Disney has indeed captured the "lightning in a bottle" that defines a successful dance movie franchise. But as willing as teenagers are to hand you their parent's money one year, the next big thing is always right around the corner. The Art of the Sequel is often about giving audiences the same thing but more of it, so to that end Disney has elected to take advantage of the resurgent 3D craze for Step Up 3-D.

There are a lot of ways to look at that, but it's hard to bet against another successful trip to the well for Disney. Considering the success of the last installment, the added expense of filming in 3D would seem to be a non issue, and looser purse strings this time around promise to make for a larger scope thematically, if not necessarily dramatically. As before the cast promises a mix of fresh faces and returning favorites, with returning character of Moose (Adam G. Sevani) taking up the mantle of protagonist in a new clash of rival urban dance troupes. Personalities collide, friendships are tested and this time around, the high stakes game of toe tapping brinkmanship takes the cast from Baltimore to New York, Paris and back to determine once and for all who in fact, is king of the hill.

No, it's not groundbreaking stuff, but this is a dance movie! You go with what works, and in this case it looks as if its going to be Dance Movie Template Number One! While Step Up 3D isn't likely to stray very far into new substantive territory, existing fans are likely to come away with exactly what they were hoping for and then some. And if your voice is just now beginning to change, I'm willing to bet that on opening day you'll be more than willing to stand in line to see what everyone's been talking about. (Bruce Hall/BOP)

Vital statistics for Step Up 3D
Main Cast Adam Sevani, Alyson Stoner
Supporting Cast Rick Malambri, Sharni Vinson, Keith 'Remedy' Stallworth, Kendra Andrews, Stephen 'tWitch' Boss, Joe Slaughter
Director Jon M. Chu
Screenwriter Amy Andelson, Emily Meyer
Distributor Touchstone Pictures
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating PG-13
Running Time 107 minutes
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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