"The Streets is about where you're from. It's not some school talent show. There's no spring floors, there's no spotlight, you use what you got... What makes you think you got it, huh?"
Well, whatever "it" is, Andie (Briana Evigan) has got it. She's part of the 410, a dance crew that's been terrorizing the streets of Baltimore with their elaborate, acrobatic choreography. Andie's pretty much completely blown off school to practice with her crew, and her substitute mom has had it. Andie's given one last shot before being shipped off to Texas, though: thanks to a helping hand-slash-dance battle from Tyler (Channing Tatum, whose quick cameo is the only real link to the first Step Up), she manages to sneak her way into a slot at the prestigious Maryland School of Arts.
'Course, we're talking about a booty-shakin' street dancer, and she's kind of a square peg in an art school overflowing with pampered ballerinas. Andie doesn't exactly endear herself to the stuffed shirt ballet dancer who's taken the reins of the school (Will Kemp), but she does manage to make a couple of friends while she's there: Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman), a street dancing charmer who's broken a couple hundred hearts at MSA, and dweeby but earnest Moose (Adam G. Sevani).
She can't make time for both school and her crew, though, and when her scenery-chewing, jealous almost-boyfriend type (Black Thomas) catches wind that Andie's been sniffing around outside her family at the 410, she's given the boot. That's okay, though: Andie, Moose, and Chase grab some of the other outcasts-'n-underdogs at MSA and form their own crew, all with the goal of eventually competing in an elite, underground dance competition known as The Streets.
Okay, okay...you and I both know we're not talking about some towering achievement in the art of filmmaking or anything. I mean, a lot of the dialogue is run through that middle-aged hipster filter of how they think kids talk. "Yo, Tuck! C'mon, man. We bouncin'! We gotta go. You know what it's like." C'mon, Poochie had more authentic street flava. A lot of the cast is made up of dancers, not...y'know, seasoned actors, leaving some of the already clumsy dialogue sounding even more awkward and stilted. Pretty much every last page of the script is yanked out of the Big Book of Generic Movie Plots. Will something break up Andie's crew? Will she still get one last shot? Big, climactic speech? They gonna throw down at The Streets (in the rain, no less)? Holla! The last shot of the flick already won an MTV Movie Award for best kiss, so you know how the whole romance thing works out.
Here's the thing, though: who cares? Step Up 2 the Streets is pretty much the movie it sets out to be. The story's just an excuse to string together a couple dozen dance sequences, so does it matter if you can pick out every twist and turn twenty minutes in advance? The actors who score the most screentime -- Briana Evigan and Robert Hoffman, particularly -- are charismatic and pretty convincing, and the weaker members of the cast dance more than they talk anyway, so who cares if they might have a Razzie chucked at 'em come November?
The movie may be corny and generic in a lot...I mean, a lot of ways, but there's something really earnest and kinda-sorta-charming at the same time about it too. The dancing is gravity-defying, limb-twistingly interplanetary stuff, and Step Up 2 the Streets finds some excuse to cram in someone, somehow dancing every couple of minutes. I don't know if it even managed to have two consecutive scenes of plot without someone busting a move. (Do kids still say "bust a move"? I'm old.)
So...yeah. I don't think I'd go so far as to actually recommend Step Up 2 the Streets, but it's likeable, harmless, and kinda fun. Worth a rental, at least, if you're into that sorta thing.
Video: I went in expecting something really bright and candy-colored, but Step Up 2 the Streets drains away most of the color, so much so that its dingy palette practically looks sepia-toned at times. If I picked up on anything from The Wire, it's that the streets of Baltimore are downbeat and gritty, so Step Up 2 the Streets goes for that same sort of look. The 1.85:1, AVC-encoded image is about as sharp and detailed as you'd expect from a movie fresh out of theaters, although there are a few scattered shots where contrast looks a little murky. It's not glossy, sparkling eye candy or anything, but Step Up 2 the Streets looks pretty decent in high-def.
Audio: There's a misprint on the case, listing a TrueHD soundtrack when Disney has actually tacked on an uncompressed PCM track. There's not really any difference at the end of the day, of course, and the 24-bit, 48 kHz lossless audio is thumpin' no matter how it's encoded. Yup, Step Up 2 the Streets' soundtrack is all about the music, with hip-hop beats flooding every speaker and backed by a monstrous, room-rattling low-frequency kick. There's nothing else that's really worth pointing out -- light ambiance and crowd noise in the surrounds, dialogue's rendered cleanly and clearly, and...yeah, that's about it -- but it's a solid mix.
Also included are subtitle streams and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French, English, and Spanish.
Extras: Step Up 2 the Streets packs on five music videos -- Flo Rida's "Low" (f. T-Pain), Missy Elliot's "Ching-a-Ling / Shake Your Pom Pom", Cherish's "Killa" (f. Yung Joc), Plies' "Hypnotized" (f. Akon), and Brit and Alex's "Let It Go" -- along with an outtake of Cassie Ventura belting out "Is It You?". Clocking in at more than 22 minutes in total, most of the videos are anchored around clips from the movie, and they're all presented in standard definition.
Also running 22 minutes is a set of deleted scenes with optional intros by director John Chu explaining what he liked about 'em and why they got the axe. These extra scenes include an early battle with Robert Hoffman and some random b-boy, a couple of scenes with Moose and Andie squabbling and eventually reconciling, the revelation who it was that turned Andie in, a big montage when the crew falls apart, and full versions of the other crews' battles at The Streets. The scenes themselves are presented in upscaled standard definition, and Chu's intros are in high-def.
"Through Fresh Eyes: The Making of Step Up 2" (12 min.; HD) is a pretty decent making-of featurette, kicking off by introducing Jon Chu and running through how he got the nod to direct his first feature film. "Through Fresh Eyes" also shows off plenty of footage from rehearsals and the shoot itself, along with notes about casting, choreography, Chu's drive to make this world look lived in, and where the concept for the sopping wet finale originated. The disc's other high-def featurette is "Outlaws of Hip Hop: Meet the 410" (5 min.), which has the crew of the 410 gushing about dancing as an ultimate form of expression and showing off their acrobatic, genre-bending moves.
A video prank (2 min.,; standard def) has Robert Hoffman and a bunch of other extras strolling in a convenience store and freezing. The disc also includes a handful of trailers and promo reels, and there's a code for a free Flo Rida ringtone pasted on the shrinkwrap. Director Jon Chu...oops! winks about there maybe being some Easter eggs, so keep an eye out, I guess.
Conclusion: Yeah, yeah...Step Up 2 the Streets is a cheeseball flick that nicks a generic plucky-underdogs-c'mon-and-raise-up story and manages to cram in a spastic, pretzel-y dance sequence every 45 seconds. Nah, the Academy's not gonna chuck any Oscars its way next Spring, but Step Up 2 the Streets is pretty much the movie it wants to be: earnest, likeable, energetic, and fat-packed with street dancing. If you caught the trailer and thought you might like Step Up 2 the Streets, you're probably right.
The usual image disclaimer: the photos scattered around this review are promotional stills and don't necessarily represent the presentation on this Blu-ray disc.