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 contains references to gang violence, racial unrest, and tragedies resulting from a life of poverty. Social classes are prevalent (the "privileged" and the "poor"), and lies and betrayal are part of the storyline. Tyler comes from a low-income foster home, and his life is all about parties, thugs, and criminal behavior, including a run-in with a chop-shop owner. There's some profanity and sexual innuendo.
What's the story?
When Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) gets caught trashing a private performing arts school with some of his buddies, the judge sentences him to community service -- cleaning the school for several hours each day. That's where he meets Nora (Jenna Dewan), a Type-A dance student with a wannabe pop star boyfriend (Josh Henderson). Nora's working hard on the choreography for her "Senior Showcase," a dance number she hopes will land her a job with a dance company after graduation. But when her partner hurts his ankle and can't practice, she needs someone to fill his place. After auditioning a few guys who can't dance worth beans, Nora's ready to give up hope. In between mopping and cleaning, Tyler notices her frustration and says he'll do it. No matter that he doesn't know a pirouette from a glissade. She's seen his hip-hop moves and knows he can dance. Besides that, she's desperate.
Is it any good?
We've seen all this before in Dirty Dancing, Take the Lead, and a zillion other dance movies. Guy from the wrong side of the tracks connects with girl through the power of dancing. She needs him to break into the next phase of her dance life, and he needs her to lift him out of his pathetic life. And it all culminates in The Big Dance Number, blah, blah, blah.
Yeah, the storyline is tired and cheesy, but what saves STEP UP from cliché-dom are the fun dance numbers that make YOU want to get up and dance. Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum have great chemistry (helped along by the fact that he looks just like Wentworth Miller on Prison Break). And the actors did all their own dance moves, which lends an authenticity to the movie and saves us from having to sit through body doubles and clunky cutaway scenes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what Tyler could have done differently in his life, rather than resorting to crime. How could Tyler have found different friends? How do you avoid "going along with the crowd" when you know they're in the wrong?
How do the adults in Tyler's life affect him? Could they have done anything differently to help him? Is the school administrator right in showing her disapproval when he wants to dance?
And what about Nora's mother? Is she right to want Nora to focus on college applications, or should she nurture her daughter's love of dance?
For kids who love dancing
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