“It’s not where you’re from. It’s where you’re at.” Apparently.
During my many recent trips to the cinema and throughout the many trailers which are shown before films, there is one in particular which stands above the rest.
Step Up 2 The Streets, sequel to the choreography-as-movie Step Up, charts the romantic and sexy-dancing entanglements between two dance students from very different backgrounds.
I’m not sure if it’s the well-defined characters or the hints at an original story. Maybe it’s the ever-growing sense of tension and conflict (“these dance contests are ILLEGAL!”; “with those competitions you are risking EVERYTHING!”), the witty repartee between the two charismatic leads (Andie: “So what’s your deal – boy bands making a comeback?”, Chase: “ooh!”). It might even be the pretty awesome soundtrack*.
Whatever the elusive attraction this trailer contains, it has drawn me to it. It has me humming “3-6-9, the goose drank the wine, the monkey chew tobacco on the streetcar line”; it has me asking WHY these dance contests are illegal; it has me wondering who are the beautiful people I see on the screen before me.
Andie, played by relative newcomer Briana Evigan, is the rebellious youth trying her hardest not to fit in with the other students at something, no-doubt prestigious, called the Maryland School of the Arts. We know Andie is rebellious because she chews chewing gum and wears tracksuit bottoms to ballet class. One end of her tracksuit leg is worn about halfway up her right calf – east siiiiiiiiide! She’s a pretty thing with a decent line in blandly-scripted sass and makes tracksuit bottoms look pretty hot – I wish her well.
Chase Collins is played by Robert Hoffman. A more seasoned actor than young Briana, he has starred as a skeleton in Pirates of the Caribbean, a beach dancer in Gigli and as Bluto in Shrooms. He brings the obligatory blond locks, bare chest, pumped abs, cheeky grin and home-grown street ‘tude to what otherwise might have been a one-note role.
Fans of the original (and I use that term in the loosest sense of the word) will be pleased by the brief appearance of Channing Tatum (or is it Tatum Channing?) in this sequel, no doubt providing a seamless segue from first film to second.
The fortunes of young Mr. Tatum post-Step Up augur well for Mr. Hoffman. Producing a decent performance in the very good A Guide to Recognising Your Saints last year, he has been at the centre of two pieces of casting news this week: he’s been added to the cast of Michael Mann’s latest, Public Enemies, also starring Christian Bale and Johnny Depp. Even more excitingly, for fans of American dolls, he’s been cast in the titular role of Stephen Sommers’ G.I. Joe.
So hear ye, mocking sniggerers of the first Step Up – this franchise shall take your young men folk and it shall mould them. Mould them into great and wonderful things.
(Step Up’s leading lady, Jenna Dewan, went on to appear in The Grudge 2.)
It is left to me only to ask: will Step Up 2 The Streets be one of the definitive, must-see films of 2008? All conventional forms of cinematic standards say no. Yet….yet….history say yes.
* I actually meant that bit.