Copyright © 2008 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
In the next chapter, the focus is on Andie West (Briana Evigan) who dreams of becoming a street dancer. She dances with her crew, the 410 but her legal guardian, Sarah (Sonja Sohn) is aware of the crimes the group participates and is concerned over the unhealthy influence it has on West. To appease both sides, Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) suggests that she try auditioning for the Maryland School of Arts which he did a while back. She is accepted into the school with the help of Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman) but when the 410 learns of her enrollment, she is ousted from the team. West and Collins then decide to form a new group comprising of Collins’ contacts in school who are diversely talented but have been sidelined by the mainstream crowd including West’s new friend Moose (Adam G. Sevani) in preparation for the dance competition, ‘The Streets’ which is last won by the 410.
Two years since Tatum danced his way into our hearts (and stardom), the mantel now goes to Evigan for picking up where the once bad boy left off. Only reduced to a cameo (unfortunately), Gage’s odyssey is ready for the next phase to adulthood and before he rides off into the sunset with his beloved, he encourages West to find her footing in an arena that she clearly is passionate about in a playful and well-conceived hip-hop routine. It sets the tone for other mind-blowing numbers to follow.
Blame it on the astounding box office returns from a $12 million production budget for the 2006 flick, we are basically watching a rehash of a familiar tread except for a few tweaks here and there (the boy gets to play the privilege sophomore with the heart of gold instead). The script’s clunky dialogue bordering on cheesiness is to be blamed for the actors’ inability to emote more convincingly and the handsome pairing of Evigan and Hoffman does feel awkward at times because of that.
The lines spouted do not progress the romance organically and the forced partnership does little to ignite the sparks of a fiery chemistry. But put this two on a dance floor, they sure know how to keep the momentum going. What is sorely missing for meatier substance in a skeletal frame is made up again with the raw energy emitting from the cast who encompasses a majority of dancers-turned-actors. Dance enthusiasts no doubt will have plenty to relish as the ante is consistently upped from one performance to another.
In the producer seat for the second time is Adam Shankman and the talent he has assembled off screen for crafting some fine footwork are recognisable faces from the hit reality television show, ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ which he is also a part of in the judging panel. The combination of styles from Jamal Sims and Dave Scott are vividly brought to life by John M. Chu in his directing debut. Chu’s keen eye for visuals and confidence in his actors’ strengths are assuredly a step up from his predecessor (no pun intended).
Two of the supporting players that rise from the mediocrity are Sevani and Mari Koda. Through their quirkiness and naiveté, they are hands down the best human element to a technically proficient piece of film making. Their non-conforming stance to individuality is humorous yet sincere; all made more memorable when each get to shine in the final dance off. If only the movie actually followed its own advice on the individualism it so strongly celebrates, it would be up in the streets front and centre as opposed to being relegated unceremoniously in a hidden alley.
Rated PG-13 for language, some suggestive material and brief violence