The dance scenes are good.
That's pretty much all that matters when you make a movie like "Step Up 2 The Streets," and maybe if you are watching and you are over 25. The plot can be minimal and contradictory, the acting can be flat. But when the dancing starts, it better be good.
Don't worry if you haven't seen the first "Step Up"; the new movie starts fresh with Andie (Briana Evigan; yes, her dad is Greg Evigan of "BJ and the Bear") a troubled teen who lives with Sarah (Sonja Sohn, earning some cash between "The Wire" seasons) after the death of her mother. Andie belongs to the underground 410 dance crew. These dance crews seem to be terrorizing Baltimore, if you believe the news report at the film's beginning, breaking into dance on subways and other places, scaring nondancing folks to death and making the cops look Keystonian.
Sarah is worried about Andie's involvement with the crew and threatens to send her to live with an aunt in Texas until another more responsible dancing friend brokers a deal. If Andie gets accepted to the Maryland School of the Arts and stays in school, she can stay in Baltimore.
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It's there that she begins to bond with Chase (Robert Hoffman), a member of the school's founding family and the cute guy. He likes her street-dancing fire, unlike his brother Blake (Will Kemp), the school's director, who looks down on street dancers. Indeed, the school's board seems very much aghast about this hip-hop dancing, and it gives the film a retro feel. I mean, it's been a while; you can see the same moves on Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," for goodness' sake.
Anyway, although the 410 is supposed to be like family, the dancers tend toward the Mafia sensibility. Crew leader Tuck (Black Thomas) and member Felicia (Telisha Shaw) feel angry/betrayed/jealous that Andie is going to school, so she is dead to them and is thrown out of the group. Andie and Chase unite with a bunch of misfit dancers at MSA to form their own crew. A rivalry grows and you know it's all leading to that final big dance-off.
There are some cute moments in the film. Adam Sevani, all bones and hair as "Moose," is charming and he definitely surprises with his poppin' and lockin'. (FYI: Just in time for the 25th anniversary of "Thiller," Micheal Jackson's moves are back -- including the crotch grabbing.) The misfit crew are not a bunch of pretty, ab-toned actors and they are the good guys. Andie isn't the prettiest girl at school; in fact, in the movie, the prettiest girl (played by singer Cassie Ventura) ends up learning some things from the misfits. It's a nice message for anyone in high school (or the equally ferocious middle school) who's feeling a little superior or a little inferior.
But it's all about the dancing. And that final dance scene, well, it involves a big crowd, little flashlights and rain. It's good.