"Step Up 2 the Streets" is the latest entry in the dance films brought to the big screen with a wafer-thin plot. Fortunately, the dancing is pretty pleasant to watch and well worth the ticket price.
Andie has been running with the dance crew "410," and tends to find herself into trouble more often than not. After an incident on the subway, her guardian, Sara, tells her she's had enough (and the threat now is to ship Andie off to Texas to some distant relative). Andie runs off to meet her friends at the Dragon Club, where she bumps into Tyler (works at MSA, the Maryland School for the Arts). Tyler tells her Sara said she ran away and offers her a chance to go to MSA. Andie says no, and Tyler challenges her to a dance off: if she wins, she goes, if not she doesn't have to. Back at Sara's, Tyler and Sara get into it over MSA, but finally she gives in.
Andie auditions for Chase and his brother Blake (aka Collins, their last name), who is the school's director. About a minute into her audition, Collins cuts off the music and Andie leaves. Chase challenges Collins to turn her into a professional. Later, Andie is telling her friends how she messed up the audition, but then gets a call from MSA that she got in. All well and good, but the school and extra practice puts her at odds with her 410 crew, particularly after missing practice, so it seems reasonable she form her own dance crew -- and she does, from the ranks of the MSA student body (though it tends to be the misfits and outcasts of the school, but they can dance).
Shakespeare it ain't. And for this genre, it works, and it's a pleasant day at the movies. (If you're really looking for high drama and deep plots, odds are you're not looking to the dance/street films anyway.) Practically speaking, I think there's only so many ways you can write your story around a reluctant dancer being nudged into a dancing environment, who finally gets their chance to shine and win some prize or award.
Andie -- Briana Evigan -- is able to work well with what she's got in terms of talent and lines. Her counterpart Chase -- Robert Hoffman -- also does reasonably well as he's moving from being the background dancer in more than a few films into a leading role. The two seem to have the basic chemistry and dance well together, so it works out fine.
Writer Toni Ann Johnson has flirted with this genre before, having worked on the TV version of "Save the Last Dance." The characters developed by Duane Adler, with credits in "Step Up," "Save the Last Dance" (both movie and TV versions), and "The Way She Moves." Director Jon Chu is relatively new to that big backed chair, and for a newbie, it worked out well enough.
"Stomp the Yard", the lead steps out of his dead brother's shadow; "Step Up" landed our leading lady a job with a dance crew, and in Step Up 2, it's knowing they're the best. Whatever the prize, the dancing tends to be above average, the music is something that you can move your feet to (even subtly while sitting in your soda-armed seats). The back stories and other elements you can forgive, because these are dance movies first, with a story slapped in to connect the dance scenes -- it's not the other way around. And that's okay.
If you are there to enjoy it for what it is -- and set aside what it doesn't try to be -- a worthwhile way to spend an evening out. (And while I am a big fan of the artsy films and such, sometimes it's nice to just veg out and watch a movie without having to think too much... and that's just the right mix here.)