How She Move

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
How She Move Movie Poster Image
Urban dance drama is formulaic yet entertaining.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Raya misleads her parents about how she's spending her free time. Boys wager on a dance match, a crew leader hints at drug dealing, and there are a few fights, but otherwise the story is redemptive and the characters are good-hearted; Raya is also academically ambitious and takes her studies really seriously. Some characters assume that girls can't step as well as the guys can and are reluctant to let Raya into the guys' crew.


Mild fight involving some shoving and yelling. Violence hinted at when two rival "crews" face off. A criminal is shown being arrested by cops.


Some "bumping and grinding" on the dance floor, and one lingering kiss. Song lyrics played during the step competitions allude to sex. Some scantily/suggestively clad women. A woman is shown straddling a man who's not wearing his shirt; they're in bed, and it seems like the prelude to sex.


A few uses of the word "bitch," and one "f--k."


Lots of mentions of the Step Monster, a dance competition.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man is shown toking on a joint. Some discussions of heavier drug use, but nothing overt. The main character's sister died of an overdose (discussed, but not shown). The drug trade casts a shadow over Raya's neighborhood.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although this film depicts a hard-knock inner-city life in Toronto, its redemptive, inspirational themes -- that no matter who you are, you can and should dare to dream -- apply to everyone. There are hints of trouble (crime, drug issues) in the neighborhood, but they're fairly subtle, and although the main character's sister dies of an overdose, it's not shown, and the only drug shown on screen is marijuana. Some angry words are exchanged, but this is the type of film where characters settle their differences in "step offs" rather than with violence. There's some language, but -- other than one use of "f--k" -- it's not excessive.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykmattson April 9, 2008
Adult Written bynayyaraf April 9, 2008
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

daddy long legs 12 years old!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

this movie is awesome you have to go see it theres noting bad in it!!!!!!!!!!

What's the story?

With her sister dead of an overdose and her parents' savings depleted after trying to stop things from going that far, Raya (Rutina Wesley) must withdraw from her tony private school and return to her old Toronto neighborhood, a gritty place where drugs and drama overwhelm dreams. Both for herself and her parents, Raya wants back out asap. Her only hope is an all-important scholarship exam. But after the test, Raya's convinced she didn't make the cut. So she finds another way to achieve her dreams: step dance. The $50,000 prize at a showcase called Step Monster might be her ticket out, but first she has to convince a competitive all-male crew that she deserves a place on their team. And even when she does, she still has to decide for herself what matters most -- winning, or staying true to herself.

Is it any good?

HOW SHE MOVE is agreeable but predictable. Wesley and co-star Dwain Murphy (who plays Raya's step/love interest Bishop) make an admirable effort to rise above the formulaic script, which throws in a resistant friend/classmate for Raya (the able Tre Armstrong), the shady but two-dimensional villain who stoked Raya's sister's drug habit and happens to head a rival step crew (Clé Bennett), and a monumental grudge match. We've seen these characters and plot points before in such fare as Stomp the Yard and Save the Last Dance, and they're none the fresher here.

Nevertheless, what makes a dance movie satisfying is the ability to capture the jubilation of dance itself -- and that How She Move does. Every time steppers take the stage, the audience is transported to a world where nothing but rhythm, movement, and beat matter. There are no major stars in the film, but the cast members more than rise to the occasion. And boy, can they dance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of dance movies. Why do so many portray dance as a way of getting in touch with your true identity? What is it about dance that taps into someone's sense of self? Families can also discuss Raya's situation. What fueled her decisions? If you were in her shoes, would you have made the same choices (and mistakes)? Why does she feel so much pressure to achieve? How is she similar to and different from characters in other urban, dance-themed movies?

Movie details

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