A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the third installment in the Step Up franchise has some romance and some aggressive dance battles, but is overall an age-appropriate choice for younger teens. There's flirting, kissing, and at-times sexy dancing, but there's nothing truly risque, and the romance is tame by movie standards. One scene shows a violent club brawl, and all of the dance battles are aggressive and feature hostile dancers challenging each other. (And the 3-D makes the dance sequences all the more thrilling/intense.) Although the ultimate message is a positive one -- to follow your passion wherever it leads -- some of the characters make it seem like dancing is more important than attending college or pretty much any other responsibility.
What's the story?
When Moose (Adam G. Sevani) and his best friend, Camille (Alyson Stoner), arrive for their freshman year at New York University in downtown Manhattan, Moose follows a man with a cool pair of sneakers and ends up beating a popular street dancer in a battle. His surprising win earns the attention of Luke (Rick Malambri), who invites Moose to join his "Pirates" crew of dancers, who all practice and room together in an urban dance commune. Moose agrees and tries to juggle his college responsibilities with his new dance family, which also includes a slightly mysterious woman named Natalie (Sharni Vinson). The Pirates must win a series of dance competitions in order to raise enough money to save the nearly foreclosed building they call home.
Is it any good?
Let's start off with the dance moves, which are undeniably entertaining. Anyone who enjoys So You Think You Can Dance will love all of the 3-D-shot dance sequences, and all of the crews have amazing skills. But any time the movie's focus shifts from dancing to an actual story or dialogue, STEP UP 3-D flails under the pressure of laughable dialogue, predictable plot development, and obvious story holes. When Natalie tells Luke she's been in London for a few years, the natural follow-up should be "what were you doing there?" or "what brought you back home"; instead, the subject is changed entirely. Later, when Natalie invites Luke to a party and it turns out to be a black-tie affair, Luke and Moose should immediately wonder why someone they thought had no family is hosting a rich-girl affair, but instead they suddenly decide to seal the caterers' black jackets.
Kids and dance lovers may be more forgiving audiences than those who don't care about thrilling tangoes or the allure of amazing sneakers. Romance-wise, Moose and Camille's relationship is more interesting -- albeit "best friends who fall in love" formulaic. Their story of boy-girl BFFs, coupled with Sevani and Stoner's charm, make that subplot satisfying. The rest of the dancer-actors were clearly hired for their dance skills rather their acting prospects.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's message -- that it's possible to follow your dreams if you work hard enough. Do you think that's true?
For a good chunk of the movie, Luke wants to Moose to put dancing first. Is that a positive message?
Is Natalie and Julien's sibling relationship healthy? How is it portrayed?
- In theaters: August 6, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 2010
- Cast: Adam G. Sevani, Alyson Stoner, Harry Shum Jr., Sharni Vinson
- Director: Jon M. Chu
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Arts and Dance
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: brief strong language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.