Making the Grades
Step Up 3D (also known as Step Up 3) is a formula film, yet it is a formula that seems to be working for the movies’ producers. Their third installment in the dance franchise includes a sugary romance and plenty of moves designed to take advantage of the 3D technology. Rushing the screen, thrusting out their arms and throwing team members into the air, the characters push the limits of their dance floor as far as they can.
In the story, Luke (Rick Malambri), a gifted performer and aspiring filmmaker, assembles a group of New York hoofers known as the Pirates from off the streets. He brings them to an old warehouse his parents converted into a practice hall where dancers of all ilks could come together to perfect their art.
Now his parents are gone and the bank is eyeing the piece of prime real estate in downtown New York. Five months behind on his mortgage payments, Luke knows his only chance to keep the studio solvent is to win the upcoming World Jam dance competition. But first he and the Pirates have to qualify for the finals. With his camcorder in hand, Luke scours the city for some new talent to add to the troupe.
That’s when he meets NYU freshman Moose (Adam G. Sevani) who has just arrived on campus. (Moose first made his appearance in Step Up 2 The Streets.) Luke invites the new student back to The Vault where his company rehearses. Though Moose promised his parents he’d give up dancing in order to focus on his studies as an engineer, he soon finds himself practicing his art during every spare moment he can find. The time commitment impacts not only his studies, but more importantly, his relationship with his old high school friend Camille (Alyson Stoner.)
In addition to Moose, Luke lures the beautiful Natalie (Sharni Vinson who has an uncanny ability for tearing up) into joining the group just before their first qualifying battle. However, the Pirates’ rivals in the House of Samurai are eager to win the competition as well and are willing to stoop to just about any level to make sure they take home the title.
Although the storyline may be shallow and predictable, the performances are anything but. Combing the country for the nation’s best, the film’s casting crew has gleaned an ensemble of agile and athletic terpsichoreans who execute some truly amazing choreography directed by Jamal Simms. Their styles include a mix of Indian, popping and locking, robotics, ballet, tap and urban street moves, as well as some parkour-inspired training steps.
The production has the mandatory bad boy—Julien (Joe Slaughter) who leads the Samurai—yet there isn’t the same kind of rebellious, sulking individuals we’ve seen in past films. These characters dance because they love it and because they love each other. Forming a family of sorts, they bring out the best in one another by sharing their skills. The spirit of teamwork and dedication are positive messages in this movie, as is the importance of pursuing educational opportunities. Parents will also appreciate that the script focuses primarily on competition preparations with only brief scenes of kissing, some infrequent sensual dance moves and a smattering of language concerns.
While the film follows the underground dance culture, the imaginative and energetic choreography may inspire young viewers to step up and develop their own style of musical movement.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Step Up 3D.
Films often fail to address the financial realities of its characters. While we know Luke is in trouble with the bank, how does the script suggest he pays for his mortgage? How does the troupe cover electricity, food and other monetary needs for costumes, electronics etc.?
A former team member tells Luke it is time to grow up and face facts. How credible is this comment considering that Carlos is still involved as a dancer himself? What kinds of employment opportunities are available for these performers? As in other professional athletic arenas, how difficult is it to succeed in this field?
What impact does lying have on relationships in this movie? How hard is it to reestablish trust?