become a Patreon patron

film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Step Up 4: Miami Heat (aka Step Up Revolution) (review)

Step Up 4 Miami Heat Step Up Revolution Ryan Guzman Kathryn McCormick red light

I’m biast (pro): the trailer looked like fun with a dollop of social conscience
I’m biast (con): haven’t been a fan of this subgenre
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

If there’s one good thing I can say about Step Up Revolution (aka Step Up 4: Miami Heat in the U.K.) — and this applies to most examples of the dance fantasy drama — it’s this: not only is the dancing fantastic, but the sexy is unusually positive, in the grand Hollywood scheme of things. Sure, there’s lots of sweaty grinding and the like, but it’s sweet, unexploitive, doesn’t objectify the women any more than it does the men (and then not much anyway), and makes an unspoken yet clearly defined point that sexy, in these cases, isn’t only about physical attractiveness but physical strength and an abundance of talent and expressiveness. Women are sexy when they’re strong; men are sexy when they’re channeling deep emotion. It’s a cartoonish sort of sexy, to be sure, but way more cheerful, open, and egalitarian than we usually see onscreen.

That said, the moment the dancing stops, it all stumbles into the howlingly ridiculous. There’s this guy in Miami, see, Sean (Ryan Guzman), who heads up an adorably “badass” crew of street dancers who are trying to win a YouTube contest by staging gently disruptive flash mobs across the city, videos of which will hopefully go viral online and rack up a winning view count. These kids today, with their mad skillz yo– well, my appropriation of street culture may be embarrassing, but it approximates how the movie does the same. They can duck security, hack computers, and infiltrate places way too posh for them, such as high-class hotels and museums, mostly down to the high-turnover service jobs they do… which might be an interesting commentary on the plight of These Kids Today had the movie bothered to go in that direction. Instead, it offers us Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher: Burlesque, Adam), a hotel developer who wants to bulldoze Sean and the gang’s working-class neighborhood, and a scheme to dance-protest him and his new swanky hotel resort away.

Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned that Sean has fallen madly in love with dance student Emily (Kathryn McCormick), a romance that expresses itself almost solely through dance. Emily, naturally, is Anderson’s daughter. Somewhere, the Montagues and Capulets are having a good laugh. Or maybe a cry, at what they have inspired.

You can probably guess how it all ends, so I hardly need to tell you. It goes beyond simplistic and into actively insulting to otherwise very good notions about the power of nonviolent public protest, and also into the preposterously naive about what Sean and Co. are up against. And then it goes beyond that to redefine “triumph” as “sellout” in a way that appears to actively negate everything the story was aiming at. The combination of wishful thinking and gullibility makes for a particularly unappealing brew that completely overshadows whatever mildly likable aspects had made it endurable up till then.

When you purchase or rent almost anything from Amazon US, Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, and iTunes (globally), you help support my work at Flick Filosopher. Please use my links when you’re shopping at either service. Thank you!

Step Up Revolution (aka Step Up 4: Miami Heat) (2012) | directed by Scott Speer
US/Can release: Jul 27 2012
UK/Ire release: Aug 10 2012

Flick Filosopher Real Rating: rated DDRn for some dance dance revolution (not)
MPAA: rated PG-13 for some suggestive dancing and language
BBFC: rated PG (contains mild language, sex references and violence)

viewed in 3D
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap