Debut director Anne Fletcher fails to put a new spin on umpteen romantic hoofers with Step Up. Screenwriter Duane Adler doesn't even try, basically rehashing his 2001 flick Save The Last Dance with a ballet dancing uptown girl and body popping roughneck who find common ground on the dance floor. Despite all the bouncing around, Jenna Dewan (Take The Lead) fails to lift this pedestrian yarn, but it's leading man Channing Tatum who wins first prize for most flexible plank.
It's the kind of film where every scene is a signpost to the next. Tyler (Tatum) falls foul of the law and is sentenced to community service at the local performing arts school where Nora (Dewan) is training for a vital audition. She catches him busting a move in the parking lot just before her regular dance partner comes hobbling through the door with an ankle injury. Oh, what to do, what to do...
Inevitably, as Tyler's relationship with Nora develops, his friendship with the homeboys (Damaine Radcliff and De'Shawn Washington) suffers. But it's the few scenes he has with little sis Camille (cheekily played by Alyson Stoner) that prove the most credible. Sadly these and a couple of high-energy dance sequences nowhere near make up for the sheer mind-numbing predictability of the plot. A last minute left turn into Boyz N' The Hood territory throws the story completely off balance. And tragedy is heaped upon tragedy when Tyler's quest to find his true self reveals that he has no personality at all. Step Up? Step off.