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Still shot from the movie: Step Up.

Step Up

Rebellious street dancer Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) gets an unexpected chance to Step Up to a new life when his community service sentence for vandalism lands him in a school for fine arts, under the tutelage of an aspiring dancing student named Nora (Jenna Dewan).

Overall Grade: B
Violence: C+
Sexual Content: B+
Language: C-
Drugs/Alcohol: B-
Release Date: 10 Aug 2006
Run Time: 103
MPAA Rating: PG-13

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In-Depth Review

Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) is a white boy growing up in the hood. Shuffled from one foster home to the next, he amuses himself with street dancing, petty theft and stealing cars.

Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan) has only ever had one goal: to become a professional dancer. Studying at the Maryland School of the Arts, the talented teen works long hours to pursue her dream, even without her mother's blessing.

Their worlds collide when Tyler lands himself 200 hours of community service at the fine art facility as consequence for a vandalism spree. Nora, whose partner has a sprained ankle, auditions the juvenile delinquent as a possible replacement after accidentally catching a glimpse of his hip-hop moves.

The rest of the movie plays out pretty much as expected, as the over-achieving ballet student teaches the rebellious youth some performance discipline, and the free-style young man helps the up-tight girl loosen up her precision choreography. As they encounter obstacles while rehearsing for a show with scholarship opportunities, they kindle more than just their passion for dance.

Although the plot is predictable, parents may be pleasantly surprised by the restrained portrayals of sexuality, which only feature some tight costumes, sensual dance moves and brief humor-soliciting innuendo. The film does present some content concerns however, in the use of mild and moderate profanities, as well as violence. Depictions of Tyler's inner city existence include a casual attitude towards crime, gang behavior and a drive-by shooting (blood from a gunshot wound is shown).

It is hard to believe the characters in the film are high school aged (both Tatum and Dewan are twenty-six), yet they still present some impressive production numbers, sure to please dance fans. Also aimed at a teen demographic is the occasional moralizing employed to drive home the movie's feel-good ending. Despite this sentimentality, viewers will likely appreciate the message that speaks to taking responsibility to Step Up to one's own potential and paying the price to achieve one's aspirations.

Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...

The harsh realities of inner city life are portrayed, with teens engaging in fistfights and crime (like car theft and acts of vandalism), as well as gang violence that leads to a drive by shooting (some blood is shown). Characters wearing low-cut and/or tight costumes perform some sensual dance moves, humor is derived from some sexual innuendo, and passionate kisses are shown. Mild and moderate profanities are used throughout the script. Alcohol is served at parties and clubs, and a foster parent is depicted as an alcoholic.

Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...

Tyler and his friends are convinced the Maryland School of the Arts is an institution for rich kids. How does that feeling contribute to their lack of respect for the school’s property? What was the real cost of their act of vandalism?

What does Director Gordon mean when she tells Tyler he needs more than just talent? What qualities do you think are essential for success?

Video alternatives

Using dance to straighten out youth problems is the central theme in the documentary Mad Hot Ballroom, as well as in the feature film Take the Lead. (Note: Jenna Dewan also had a role in the latter movie.) Relative newcomer Channing Tatum played a part in Coach Carter, a based-on-a-true-story adaptation about some troubled teens that find the path to a brighter future through the game of basketball.

Other films in this franchise include Step Up 2 The Streets and Step Up 3D.

Home Video Notes

Blu-ray Notes:Step UP

Release Date:3 July 2012

Step Up dances it’s way onto blu-ray, just before the franchise launches Step Up Revolution.

DVD Notes:Step UP

Release Date:18 December 2006

Step Up toe-taps its way onto DVD accompanied by deleted scenes, bloopers and a commentary with director/choreographer Anne Fletcher and stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan. Music and dance fans can also check out the featurette MySpace.com Dance Contest Videos and the music videos Get Up 2 (Ciara Featuring Chamillionaire), Give it Up to Me (Sean Paul Featuring Keyshia Cole) and Step Up (Samantha Jade). Audio tracks are available in English and French (both Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound), with subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

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About the Reviewer: Donna Gustafson

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