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Review of Step Up All In by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky

Step Up All In has impressive choreographed dance routines people have come to expect throughout the five films of the franchise. And that’s about all it has going for it. If the surround sound was muted and the scenes attempting to form a plot were deleted, it would be much more entertaining.

The Trish Sie-directed film begins on a high note, however, in an amusing montage of dancers at a commercial audition, complying with every bizarre direction requested of them. The film’s physically flawless protagonist, “Sean” (Ryan Guzman) starts the story off with a voiceover, “There’s a magic that happens when you dance. The world is in synch, and for one perfect moment, you feel totally alive.” This sincere viewpoint carries him through the rest of the film, especially when his dance crew “the Mob” bails on him, tired of endless auditions and no money.

After losing a bar dance-off to a local dance crew “the Grim Knights,” led by thug and Donnie-Wahlberg lookalike “Jasper,” (Stephen Jones) Sean sees one possible solution for his problems: a Vegas dance competition – a.k.a. – The Vortex.

Sean forms a new dance crew, LMNTRX (pronounced “elementrix”), and seeks help from his old friends and regulars of the franchise: “Moose,” (Adam Sevani) “Jenny,” (Mari Koda) “Hair” (Chris Scott), “Vladd” (Chad Smith), “Monster” (Luis Rosado), and Sean’s love interest, “Andie” (Briana Evigan). Together, they break into impromptu dances and unnecessarily whip hats and clothing items out of the screen, right into your 3D glasses.

The script by John Swetnam and Duane Adler feebly attempts to be funny but fails miserably. Between Andie’s caricature bosses and Sean eating Moose’s mom’s goat balls (that sentence alone reflects the cringe-worthiness of the writing) the dialogue is unfortunately laughable. Aside from those scenes, it’s purely dancing. They dance continuously, with montages of the gang dressed up as zombies and mad scientists – making me ache for the days of Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum romantically dancing in the first Step Up rehearsal room eight years ago.

Although the script seems like a Saturday Night Live sketch, it’s not what audience members are paying to see – it’s the dancing and that’s where the film flourishes. Each number is exciting and enticing, with added help from the editing and upbeat music. Paying extra money for 3D is a waste since it only used on occasion, and even then it’s just Twitch (from The Ellen DeGeneres Show) flinging a hat at you. Not worth it.

The plot plays out as expected as the crew heads to Vegas for a shot at financial stability, with Sean’s inspirational speeches to boot. For fans of the franchise, the return of many beloved characters keeps the film fun and lighthearted, but for those looking for anything more substantial than 112 minutes of competitive dancing, Step Up All In doesn’t fit the bill.

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Review © Brigid K. Presecky (8/11/14)

Top Photo: Ryan Guzman as “Sean”

Bottom Photo: Ryan Guzman as “Sean” and his dance crew.

Q: Does Step Up All In pass the Bechdel Test?

No. The script is mostly focused on Sean and his crew’s vision of winning The Vortex.

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