School is in for rising star Briana Evigan who gets an impact-making role as a street dancer torn between the edgy 410 dance group (the number being an area code in the Baltimore area) and aspirations at the Maryland School of Arts (MSA) in the kinetic dance drama Step Up 2: The Streets.
Evigan plays Andie, a troubled teen with a troubled past living in Baltimore… with two key friends as well as competing male suitors including the popular Chase, played by Robert Hoffman. She suffers through hurtful designations like “just a street dancer” and “amazing little dancer”, but at least filmmakers focus on her talents instead of making her a sexual object while she still exudes sex appeal.
The setup is somewhat tiresome, but the authentic settings and youthful performances inject some originality into this experience. Tyler Gage, played by Channing Tatum (She’s the Man and the first Step Up film) makes a key return appearance, which establishes Andie’s direction earlier in the film. Real life British dancer Will Kemp plays the MSA’s dance instructor Blake Collins who teaches some strong moves and life lessons. Another newcomer, Adam Sevani makes a nice impression full of comic relief and surprising moves as Moose, especially in a sequence featuring Timbaland‘s song “The Way I Are“.
The sudden ending and familiar life challenges woven through an uneven, fairly predictable 98 minute story dampen the exciting dance sequences. Director Jon Chu has a great musical background and assembles some nice dance sequences, unfortunately and predictably the film’s highlights. The nostaglic elements of The Streets provide some interest (also would have made a great documentary/extra on the DVD), but this modern urban tale is geared toward enteraining young audiences with a variety of quality dance moves and music genres including salsa, break-dancing, and hip-hop. Overall, filmmakers seem to be going through the motions as they fail to maximize and successfully incorporate the dancing, choreographed by Jamal Sims, Nadine "Hi Hat" Ruffin, and Dave Scott, into a strong story reflecting their creative art instead of the standard Hollywood clichés.
The high energy music soundtrack includes songs by Missy Elliot, Flo Rida, and Enrique Iglesias. Several music videos, authentic dance featurettes, and an available Blu-ray edition really boost up the home edition, especially for dance fans. Language options include English, Spanish and French. Recommended with reservations and rated PG-13 for language, some suggestive material, and brief violence.