A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Step Up: All In -- the fifth installment in the popular dance-flick franchise -- stars several leads from the previous movies (think of it as Step Up: All Stars). Like the other Step Up movies, there's a little bit of romance and a whole lot of over-the-top dance sequences. Most audiences by now understand that these movies aren't known for their performances or plot lines but for the dancing; this one has the added bonus of featuring some fan favorites from the past few films. This franchise targets tweens and teens, particularly those interested in hip-hop and dance crews. Expect some swearing (one "f--king," plus "s--t," "d--k," etc.), social drinking by young adults (once to the point of tipsiness), kissing/sexual tension, pushing/shoving, and a healthy dose of product placement.
What's the story?
STEP UP: ALL IN starts off following Sean (Ryan Guzman) and his Miami dance crew, "The Mob," as they futilely attempt to secure dance jobs in Los Angeles six months after their last big gig -- a Nike commercial that paid $50,000. Ultimately the crew decides to go back to Miami minus Sean, who's determined to make his dreams come true. Moose's (Adam G. Sevani) grandparents give the down-and-out Sean a job at their dance studio -- but as a handyman, not an instructor. Desperate for another big break, Sean finds out about "Vortex" -- a VH1-sponsored dance competition in Las Vegas -- and convinces Moose to start a new crew. Together, Sean and Moose track down some former Step Up dancers -- most notably Andie (Briana Evigan) -- to join them, and their LMNTRIX crew secures a chance to win a much-coveted three-year dance contract at Vortex. Unfortunately for Sean, the competition includes his old hometown crew.
Is it any good?
The fun here is all in the dancing. The truth is that no one should see any of the Step Up movies (with the exception of perhaps the first one, which now has the novelty of starring young Channing Tatum and his wife, Jenna Dewan) expecting nuanced acting or a touching plot. Every single one involves an underdog group of dancers (or couple) trying to dance beyond people's expectations at a competition that could change their lives. But, as poorly acted movies go, at least this franchise has some pretty spectacular dance sequences, in both rehearsal scenes and the big competition acts.
In addition to the dances, the fifth installment provides the added value of starring a Who's Who of former Step Up performers, and it's genuinely fun to see them dance together, particularly the charming Moose, the tough-but-vulnerable choreographer Andie (who looks and sounds like Demi Moore's little sister), and supporting crew members like the Santiago twins. But save yourself the service charge and see it in 2D, because the 3D action is negligible and unnecessary to enjoy the choreographed scenes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the continued popularity of the Step Up movies. What makes them so compelling? Are you interested in more?
Some of the characters are obviously played by dancers who aren't trained actors; do you think the dancing scenes are more important than the acting scenes?
What is the movie's message about life in the arts, particularly dance? Is it an easy life or a hard one?
- In theaters: August 8, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: November 4, 2014
- Cast: Alyson Stoner, Briana Evigan, Ryan Guzman
- Director: Trish Sie
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Arts and dance, Friendship
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some language and suggestive material
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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.