x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

DVD review: Step Up 3

Step Up 3 is a typical, formulaic dance movie aimed at teenagers.

Step Up 3

Director: Jon M Chu

Starring: Rick Malambri, Adam Sevani, Sharni Vinson

If you're 15, and into street dance, this is for you. I'm old and grey and past it, and a film like this just rams that home.

Teenyboppers on heat do battle in a high-octane, high-hormone acrobatic contest between rival gangs. The high jinks of these underage hunks and babes reminded me what a jungle is the college yard. The alpha-hunk here owns a kind of multi-storey industrial warehouse in downtown New York that doubles as a disco, must cost a billion dollars and is bathed in neon and peopled with stray-cat dancers who are all damaged kids making the best of a bad deal.

The choreography's immaculate, and makes for stunning creative expression, even if as theatre it's distinctly limited. There are four-year-olds bustin' some crazy moves, while one great moment involved the bad-guy dancers imitating pitbulls. But the acting is terrible: sugar-coated, coy and anodyne, heavy on long looks and tearful teen heartache. And the bolt-on storyline that fills the gaps is lame. It's full of pearls of teenage truth such as "dance music, it's always been there for me", "you're my best friend in the whole wide world and I never want to let that go", and "be true to yourself, and it's all gonna be all right".

It's set in a grungy urban hinterland, but these street urchins are drinking pink milkshakes and somehow contrive to be extremely wholesome. And they're all so insufferably earnest. As a spectacle, I can't help finding street dance odd; a kind of gang-inspired freestyle art form, heavy with attitude, full of crablike, bow-legged people in short trousers, wearing Nikes and flashing hip-hop hand signals. But maybe that's just the old man in me again.