Make Your Move: Film Review

Ignore the hackneyed storyline and enjoy the dancing.

Star-crossed lovers connect on the dance floor in this latest effort from the screenwriter of "Save the Last Dance" and "Step Up."

Duane Adler, the screenwriter of Save the Last Dance and Step Up -- he also created the characters for the latter movie’s sequels -- has certainly carved out a lucrative cinematic niche for himself in the form of teen-oriented dance movies. His latest effort, Make Your Move, which he wrote and directed, doesn’t deviate from the successful formula with its star-crossed lovers storyline punctuated by a series of furiously energetic dance sequences.

Derek Hough, of Dancing with the Stars fame, and Korean pop star BoA (making her American film debut) co-star as Donny and Aya, who fall in love thanks to their mutual love of dancing. He’s an ex-con -- but the nice kind -- who’s jumped parole in New Orleans and traveled to Brooklyn to hang out with his black foster brother Nick (Wesley Jonathan) who runs an underground dance club called Static. She’s the leader of a female hip-hop dancing-drumming troupe who performs there.

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Complicating their relationship is the fact that her visa is due to expire in three weeks and that Nick faces competition from his former partner Kaz (Will Yun Lee), who has opened a rival club financed by a nasty Wall Street businessman (Jefferson Brown) who has the hots for Aya.

The Romeo and Juliet-inspired plotline basically serves as a framing device allowing the opportunity for a plethora of exuberant dance sequences that particularly show off Hough’s considerable talent. Although it takes a while for the main characters to hook up, Hough’s Donny seals the deal with an impromptu dance duet in which he removes his shirt to reveal his admirably chiseled torso. While the Astaire-Rogers movies used dance as a metaphor for sex, in these modern variations it’s an elaborate form of foreplay.

Undemanding young audiences will hardly mind the one-note characterizations, formulaic storyline and banal dialogue even as they’ll relate to the frequent nods to text messaging and YouTube videos gone viral. Despite the occasional witty moment -- such as when a cabbie interrupts a potentially violent encounter by commenting, “Either shoot somebody or pay me, my meter’s running” -- the screenplay makes the Step Up series seem sophisticated by comparison.

Hough’s dancing is far more impressive than his acting, and BoA, despite her perky sexiness, is an even less compelling screen presence. But they certainly move well together, and that’s pretty much all that matters here, even if the overly familiar and derivative Make Your Move, which was released in a 3D version overseas, is unlikely to spawn another dance movie franchise.

Opens April 18 (High Top Releasing)

Production: CJ Entertainment, S.M. Entertainment, Robert Cort Production

Cast: Derek Hough, BoA, Wesley Jonathan, Will Yun Lee, Izabella Miko, Jefferson Brown

Director/screenwriter: Duane Adler

Producers: Patricia Chun, Robert W. Cort, Eric Hetzel, Soo-Man Lee

Executive producers: Tony Blain, Nikki Semen Han, Daniel J. Heffner, Young Min Kim, Sung Ho Lee, Steven Nam

Director of photography: Greg Middleton

Editor: Melissa Kent

Production designer: Anastasia Masaro

Costume designer: Alex Kavanagh

Composers: Michael Corcoran, Eric Goldman

Rated PG-13, 110 minutes