STUDIO: Touchstone
MSRP: $15.99
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
• Deleted Scenes and Bloopers
• dance contest videos
• Music videos
• Audio commentary

The Pitch

Fame meets So You Think You Can Dance!

The Humans

Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, Mario, Drew Sidora, Rachel Griffiths

The Nutshell

Every dance movie you’ve ever seen…again.

The Lowdown

Step Up is not only a dance movie, but it’s also a 103-minute advertisement for the official Step Up soundtrack album, Marc Ecko clothing, Pepsi products, Doritos, and probably a few other fine goods and services. Squeezed in between the plugs are dancing, romance, harsh life lessons being learned, gratuitous musical numbers, and a climax you can see coming before the opening credits are over.

Step Up image #1
Lord Tyler addresses his troops.

Does that mean that Step Up is a bad movie? Not necessarily, but this wasn’t the most inspiring piece of cinema to hit googolplexes in 2006.

The plot: rich girl Nora (Jenna Dewan) is a dance student at a prestigious Baltimore school for the performing arts. Nora is working hard preparing for a big “dance off” type thing that basically serves as a final exam at the school. Nora has big dreams, but her foolish mother thinks she should go to a real university instead of trying to pursue her dream of being a dancer.

But disaster strikes: Nora’s dance partner injures himself and she needs a replacement, fast. Despite the school seemingly being full of talented performers, no one measures up to Nora’s lofty expectations. It looks like Nora will have to ashcan her high-stepping dreams and get an education instead. Is it curtains for our heroine?

Step Up No.2
Tyler just needs some gasoline to complete his home-made light sabre.

Yeah, right. This is a dance movie.

Nora’s white knight arrives in the form of Vanilla Ice/K-Fed wannabe Tyler (Channing Tatum), who as luck would have it, has been sentenced to 200 hours of community service at Nora’s school after he and a couple of his buddies broke into the place and trashed it. When foster child Tyler’s not playing basketball and stealing cars with his homies, the hunky lunk from the wrong side of the tracks is busting moves in “urban” dance clubs. Can this brooder finally find something to believe in and…step up when someone needs his help?

Of course. This is a dance movie.

What ensues over the next ninety minutes is something we’ve seen so many times before: Nora and Tyler don’t get along at first, but they gradually warm up to each other before ultimately falling in love. Parents, boyfriends, and authority figures stand in the way of our star-crossed pair and voice mild objections, but are all smiles by the end. Tyler finally finds direction in his life where none existed before, and aspires to be something more than just another shiftless nobody. Dance montages ensue, filling in the slow spots where required. Comic relief happens.

Step Up No.3
"When I asked for a bear claw, I wasn’t talking about ice cream."

Step Up hits all the right (predictable) notes as it winds its way towards its inevitable conclusion; you keep expecting John Lithgow to pop up at any moment to lecture us on the evils of dancing.

Step Up‘s story is totally by-the-numbers, but for a dance flick it’s serviceable enough. It’s certainly better than what passed for a plot in Dirty Dancing, that’s for sure. Still, there are a couple of sub-plots (one of which ends with someone getting shot) that just seem like padding, keeping us away from the dance sequences.

Step Up No.4
No fruit carts were overturned in the making of this motion picture.

As for the dance scenes themselves, they’re okay but given that the director/choreographer of Step Up, Anne Fletcher, is a renowned choreographer with a long string of film and television credits to her name, it’s a bit of surprise when most of the dancing comes across as tepid. These scenes needed much more energy and flair. They’re decently filmed and edited (like the rest of the movie), but they just sort of happen, not really grabbing you. The big finale could have redeemed the whole thing with a knockout number, but it’s surprisingly average, not to mention brief. The actors seem to be decent enough dancers (who did all their own dancing, according to the audio commentary), but they never get to strut their stuff to any great degree.

Step Up is very much an assembly-line product, but for what it is, it’s okay; watchable, but not very invigorating.

Step Up No.5
Tyler is horrified to discover that his new bride is also his sister.

The Package

Step Up has a decent array of extra material: deleted scenes, bloopers, music videos, a commentary track, a choreography featurette, and fan-submitted dance contest videos.

There are four deleted scenes available, with optional audio commentary from director Anne Fletcher explaining why the cuts were made. These scenes run around a minute or so apiece and were cut for pacing purposes, according to Fletcher. Nothing ground-breaking.

A blooper reel is in here too, and is the typical stuff: people falling down, forgetting their lines, wrestling with filing cabinets, flubbing dance moves, and breaking into laughter at the wrong time. It runs for a couple of minutes.

Step No.6
Basketball Jones, Jr.

Making The Moves is a brief (around five minutes) featurette examining the movie’s dance choreography. It doesn’t go into any great detail on the topic.

The audio commentary track features stars Channing Tatum, Jenna Dewan, and Anne Fletcher. It’s fairly light and frivolous, with everybody mostly talking about how wonderful everyone was to work with and how great various scenes were. There are no meaningful insights into how the movie was made, although Fletcher does criticize a few minor things, and points out a couple of continuity gaffes. Nothing special, but it sounds like everyone enjoyed themselves recording the track.

Step Up No.7
Tyler’s spout is fine, but his handle needs work. ran a contest to help promote Step Up, where MySpace users submitted dance videos of themselves for the opportunity to appear in the movie and in Ciara’s Get Up music video. The winning videos are shown here (both in a montage and in their entirety), and they’re pretty good. Some of the clips also appear in the closing credits of the movie.

We get to see the end result of the dance contest too: Ciara’s Get Up music video, along with three other videos of songs from the movie’s soundtrack. If you didn’t see them on MTV, here they are, all in one place.

Step Up No.8
Nora sucks out another soul.

There are also some trailers for upcoming and current Disney/Touchstone movies.

Step Up is a recent movie from a large studio, so the picture and sound quality is solid. It’s not a “reference” disc but it does the job, looking and sounding fine.

The movie comes in a standard DVD slipcase featuring the theatrical poster art on the front. Inside is a glossy two-sided insert sheet with a chapter guide on one side and an ad for the movie Invincible on the other.

5.5 out of 10