Parents' Guide to

Step Sisters

By Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Dance rivalry tale has racial themes, drinking, cursing.

Movie PG-13 2018 107 minutes
Step Sisters Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 13+

Step Sisters

This movie has been a go to for me for the last couple years. If I want to watch something simple that I don’t have to pay too much attention to, I turn this on haha. I’m a big fan of movies with some kind of performance/ competition, and stepping is a unique performance compared to the usual singing/dance/cheer movies. As I am a white 21 year old woman, I can’t say much on how it portrays black Greek life or black characters. However, the stereotypes around the white characters are pretty accurate, although dramatized and turned up a notch from real life. The “woke” white guy who hates the fact that he’s white, and the white sorority loving to party and seeming superficial at first are very accurate to my college experience. As the movie goes on it is shown that there is more than meets the eye, and each character has their own personalities and struggles. I enjoy the message of sisterhood, and the linkage of how the white sorority feels out of place being the only white steppers to how black people feel when they’re the only black person in a room. The movie could’ve expanded on this more, with more cultural appreciation “lessons” in the training montage. Like teaching the history behind step. I wouldn’t say the racism goes both ways because racism is a systemic oppression, and since white people in western society have always been the oppressor we can’t be the oppressed. However prejudice can occur as it’s on an individual basis, and I do think there was some prejudice in the movie where one black character could not remember a white characters name when it was just “Beth”. Or that could have been a joke because a lot of white people can’t say or can’t remember ethnic names (or don’t even want to try and learn the name). At the end a random group performing step dressed in stereotypical “Asian” shirts and wigs, which I feel really missed the mark. In a movie about cultural appreciation/ appropriation, you chose to appropriate from a different culture for no reason?? “Asian” style clothing is not a costume to be worn for a performance. It, much like step, is a big part of their culture and history, so I feel like this particular scene was very disappointing. There is heavy drinking and swearing, but it’s a movie about college students. I honestly heard worse swearing in middle school, and they don’t swear every chance they get. They even sensor some by saying “eff” instead of the full f-word. The drinking is pretty concentrated in the first part of the movie at a party, but there are other scenes with alcohol, just not at the forefront. And there is one “sex scene” but nothing is shown, just insinuated as the characters are behind a bush. Another problem I had was the only openly gay character talked about sexual things all the time and had to be reminded about boundaries. And he was the dean!! I felt it sexualized lgbtq+ relationships too much, and it didn’t really add anything to his character or the plot. We are not your token sex freaks. Overall, this movie is light hearted, and you don’t have to look into it too much if you don’t want to. Sometimes I just throw it on for background noise when I’m studying. I really enjoy the ending performance, as it’s pretty creative where the white sorority plays into some stereotypes about them at first. I also like the message of sisterhood, and it makes me wish I would’ve rushed for a sorority so maybe I could’ve graduated with closer friends.
age 13+

We liked it

My daughter who is 9 and I watched this movie. She loved the stepping part of it. It had some controversy that I have seen in my own college of a group saying whites can't step so the girl couldn't join their sorority. The part my daughter and I also liked where the girl states how no races owns anything. Has its ups and downs but has some good things in it as well.

This title has:

Great messages
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6):
Kids say (5):

No points given here for originality or surprises; however, some dynamic dancing and a few earnest performances make it passable. Super-achiever vies with mean girl. Who will win the big contest? To make fun of stereotypes, Step Sisters' filmmakers create typical ones, then try to add some depth to the characters. It works, to a degree. Anchored by Megalyn Echikunwoke in the lead role, the cast appears to be having a wonderful time -- forgoing subtlety for brash fun. And hitting racial biases head on can't ever be considered a total miss.

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