Step Up 2 the Streets

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The inevitable sequel to "Step Up," 2006's surprise summer hit, "Step Up 2 the Streets" provides another dose of what its target teen audiences want: up-to-the-minute urban street dancing performed by sexy young stars displaying toned physiques and killer abs. As strictly formulaic as its predecessor, this installment generally gets the job done, essentially resembling a longform music video interrupted by a perfunctory plot.

The main attempt at originality in "Step Up 2" is a reversal both of the gender and the striving of its protagonist. The original depicted the efforts of lead character Tyler (Channing Tatum, briefly seen here handing the reins over) to dance at an elite Baltimore arts academy rather than on the streets. This sequel deals with the desire of new student Andie (Briana Evigan) to get back to the streets.

Andie is naturally a misfit in her new surroundings, missing her old crew (a gang dubbed the "410," who in the film's openings scene is seen essentially terrorizing passengers on a subway train) and quickly running afoul of the school's stuffy, classically oriented director (Will Kemp), who dismisses her as "just a street dancer." Naturally, she also finds a romantic interest, in the form of hunky star student Chase (Robert Hoffman).

Comic relief is provided via various supporting characters, most notably a geeky student named Moose (Adam G. Sevani, scoring the film's biggest laughs) who reveals unexpected freestyle dance skills.

Director Jon M. Chu handles the dance, if not necessarily the dramatic, sequences with reasonable skill, thankfully avoiding the rapid-fire assemblage of random body parts afflicting so many modern musicals. The lead performers and large ensemble of supporting players get plenty of opportunity to show off their moves, especially in the climactic sequence in which Andie and her fellow students compete in a dancing battle dubbed "The Streets" that feels like the modern urban equivalent of an MGM musical production number.

Newcomer Evigan is appealing in the leading role, even if she doesn't quite convey the edginess that her character is supposed to possess, while Hoffman, though lacking the smoldering charisma of Tatum, brings a welcome lightness of tone to his portrayal.

The wall-to-wall soundtrack naturally features plenty of today's leading hip-hop and R&B artists, including Flo Rida, T-Pain, Missy Elliott and Trey Songz.

STEP UP 2 THE STREETS
Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures
Summit Entertainment in association with Offspring Entertainment
Credits:
Director: Jon M. Chu
Screenwriters: Toni Ann Johnson, Karen Barna
Producers: Patrick Wachsberger, Erik Feig, Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot
Executive producers: Bob Hayward, David Nicksay, Anne Fletcher, Meredith Milton
Director of photography: Max Malkin
Production designer: Devorah Herbert
Music: Aaron Zigman
Costume designer: Luca Mosca
Editors: Andrew Marcus, Nicholas Erasmus
Cast:
Andie: Briana Evigan
Chase: Robert Hoffman
Blake Collins: Will Kemp
Moose: Adam G. Sevani
Sophie: Cassie Ventura
Missy: Danielle Planco
Hair: Christopher Scott
Jenny Kido: Mari Koda
Running time -- 98 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13

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