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Movie Review: 'Go for It' is 'Dour and Uninspired'

Go For It
Lionsgate

The Bottom Line

This formulaic urban dance film doesn’t have the right moves. 

 

Aimee Garcia

Gina Rodriguez

Al Bandiero

Jossara Jinaro

Derrick Denicola

Carmen Marron's Hispanic-themed dance film opens Friday.

 

Go for It! is an all-too-familiar tale of a young woman attempting to raise herself above her humble station through, what else, dance. Carmen Marron’s low-budget effort earns points for effectively conveying the grittiness of its lead character’s inner city surroundings. But this dour, uninspired, Hispanic-themed variation on the profitable Step Updance movies is unlikely to similarly rouse teens.  

19-year-old Carmen (Aimee Garcia) is a Mexican-American junior college student who in her spare time practices her hip-hop moves in Chicago’s underground dance clubs. She does little to further her dream of becoming a professional dancer until a stern but supportive teacher (Al Bandiero) encourages her to apply to a California dance academy.

Meanwhile, she juggles a complicated personal life. Her older brothers are constantly squabbling; she falls for a fellow student (Derrick Denicola) from a tony background; and her best friend (Gina Rodriguez) is embroiled in a violently abusive relationship.

The filmmaker, who based her screenplay on her own experiences growing up as a street dancer in Chicago, clearly means to deliver an inspirational tale for minority youths. But she doesn’t help her cause by creating an unappealing lead character who spends most of the film in a state of surly indifference.

With the exception of the teacher who reveals unexpected emotional depths, most of the supporting characters are unfortunate stereotypes. The young Hispanic males are all prone to fits of violence, and the boyfriend’s mother is so aghast at her son’s new relationship that she has a panic attack that is only quelled by chugging down a glass of wine.

The story culminates in a Flashdance-style audition in which Carmen attempts to impress the academy’s snooty faculty with her moves, but the routine choreography and Garcia’s perfunctory dancing is hardly likely to prompt an increase in dance school enrollments.

Further hampered by poor production values and ineffective performances by most of the cast, Go for It! never manages to conjure an iota of the joyful exuberance that enlivens even the most formulaic dance films.