Making the Grades
Classes at the fictional Maryland School of the Arts are back in session again in this sequel to the dance fest Step Up from a couple of years ago. With a whole new cast (although heartthrob protagonist Tyler Gage [Channing Tatum] does make an opening act appearance), the creators of this version say it's the exact inverse of their first film.
Rather than bringing culture to the streets, in this script the streets come to the MSA when step dance loving Andie (Briana Evigan) decides to lament her mother's untimely death by doing "pranks" on the trains. When her "crew" is on the news, evading police and causing public mischief, she is presented with two choices by her guardian: Attend the artsy academy or take a trip to Texas to live with her aunt. For reasons not entirely understood by us, the latter option sounds akin to death, so she packs her street-wise attitude into a backpack and heads to class.
Predictably, her first day at school she bumps into the institution's most eligible male. Chase (Robert Hoffman) is cool with the girl's freestyle steps, but the conservative director of the esteemed institution -- who also happens to be his brother Blake (Will Kemp) -- doesn't think spinning on your head qualifies as a dance move. Adding to the cast of dozens is Sophie (Cassie Ventura) -- a confident and talented girl who fills the role of Chase's ex-girlfriend, and "Moose" (Adam Sevani) who takes an instant liking to Andie but is blithely out of step with social norms.
The dance movie genre is becoming a fast growing category with street moves and "stepping" leading the way. Thankfully the Step Up series appears to be avoiding the usual sexual escapades that often plague teen-targeted films -- the greatest issues in this area being Andie's penchant for bust-baring tops and some suggestive choreography by various characters.
However, a sense of rebellion is evident, especially in regard to the youths' rowdy public behavior on the subway and another prank involving breaking into a competing crew's house and leaving an odorous calling card. In retaliation, the school's dance studio is trashed and one character is physically assaulted. Consequences for these misdemeanors are conveniently overlooked, as is the question of how these high school students can regularly hang out at a dance club where alcohol is being served in the background.
Perhaps we are able to overlook that last faux pas because this cast appears far too old to be in high school. Only Sevani acts his age (he is a mere 15), while the rest of the principal cast members are well into their twenties. But, make no mistake, they can certainly dance and can even command the rains to fall when it's time for their big outdoor finale on a water soaked industrial parking lot. With little motivation for our protagonist to learn a positive lesson and a know-it-all attitude that always gets her way, this Disney Touchstone title is no High School Musical and takes a step down from it's first episode.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Step Up 2 The Streets.
Dancing is often portrayed as a way to vent anger and frustration. Is that always the case in this film? What is Andie’s attitude toward her guardian, who was asked by her dying mother to care for her? Who changes in the end, Andie or her guardian?