How 'Step Up All In' Compares to the Rest of the Modern Dance-Movie Subgenre

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How 'Step Up All In' Compares to the Rest of the Modern Dance-Movie Subgenre

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | August 8, 2014 | Comments ()


Adam G. Sevani plays Moose in the Step Up series, and while no one from the original Charming Potato/Jenna Dewan version has reappeared in subsequent installments, Sevani is the glue that connects the second film to the franchise’s fifth, Step Up: All In. He’s was a scene stealer in the second film, a major player in the third, he came on relief in the fourth film (essentially to salvage it) and he’s once again a major player in All In, which is something of an all-star installment. Andie (Briana Evigan) — the star of the second film — joins a dance crew with Sean (Ryan Guzman) — the star of the fourth film — after his mob crew abandons him. Moose is the one who introduces the two, and he’s now in a relationship with Camille (Alyson Stoner), one of the stars of the third film.

None of this really matters, and certainly has little bearing on the plot itself. But for the first time in the Step Up series, there are some familiar faces from previous installments besides Moose, although most of the actors in the series are so bland and interchangeable that it’d be easy confuse them for each other. The only two that stand out from the past four films are Evigan, because she’s never owned a shirt that fell below her navel, and Sevani, because he’s arguably the most amazing dancer in the entire dance-film genre.

Sevani will Billie-Jean your face off.

I’ve seen all of these films — not just the Step Up movies, but the others, too (Stomp the Yard is probably the most entertaining of the genre, while How She Move is probably the best written and acted of the genre) — and it’s impossible to review them, really. The storylines and the acting performances are deplorable (Step Up Revolution being the low point), but they’re also completely beside the point. These movies are strictly about the dance performances and the choreography, and the only way I really know how to measure them is to count the number of “Oh My Gods” that involuntarily slip out of my mouth during each film.

Step Up: All In had about nine or ten “Oh My God” moments, which is slightly better than average, but not quite as impressive as Step Up 2: The Streets, which featured arguably the best dance sequence in any of these movies, the tour de force dance-in-the-rain finale that has not yet been topped in the genre, although Sevani’s performance in the water during the third movie came pretty goddamn close.

There are a few moments in Step Up All In, however, that at least approach that, and the finale — which brings in half the cast of the previous three films — is eye-popping and fun to watch. Sevani is heavily featured, along with a jaw-dropping Briana Evigan move, although the scene stealers are actually an adorable couple that both do the robot, which is reminiscent of this brilliant sequence in Revolution.

However, if there’s one complaint I have with All In — besides the usual gripes about these movies — it’s that the soundtrack choices were incredibly uninspiring this time out (save for a old-school Bobby Brown number), and the series has lost some of the nasty edge that characterized the dance numbers in the second and third movies (there was more krunking there, while All In — which takes place during a Las Vegas competition — goes more for the spectacle).

That said, it’s still a blast, as long as you take naps or read a book between the dance sequences. It’s not an amazing film, doesn’t necessarily need to be seen in the theater (and certainly doesn’t warrant the 3D surcharge) but for anyone who appreciates brilliant choreography and insane dance moves, All In — like the other four in the series — is ultimately very satisfying.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • e jerry powell

    See, I've been Netflixing this sporadic series of shorts compilations called Dance for Camera. Pretty much self-explanatory.

    I've also been Netflixing longer-form pieces that have been specifically adapted for film from stage pieces (particularly pieces from DV8 Physical Theater, the company Derek Jarman was so taken with in Edward II).

    If more choreographers were into creating dance sequences for film without feeling as though they needed to string them together with lame excuses for narrative or requiring dancers to perform with really poorly written dialogue, I could be a happy camper with this subgenre.

    It is possible to present dance in cinematic context that isn't simple documentation of live performance is all I'm saying.

  • jM

    Well, I just fell down a Dance for Camera Youtube hole, so thanks for that. I'll definitely check out DV8 Physical Theater when I have more time. Have you heard of RUBBERBANDance Group? They have some nicely filmed dance shorts on there Youtube page.

  • e jerry powell

    Yeah. All the DV8 ballets that are online are there in their entireties, and they're not short pieces at all.

    And trying to find all the shorts from just the compilations on Youtube can be a pain in the tuckus, particularly because a goodly number are actually in higher resolution on Vimeo.

    Reines d'un Jour (Marie Nespolo/Christine Kung/Pascal Magnin, Switzerland, 26 minutes)
    Measure (Dayna Hanson/Gaelen Hanson, United States, 7 minutes)
    Rest in Peace (Hans Hof Ensemble/Annick Vroom; UK & Netherlands, 9 minutes)
    A Village Trilogy (Laura Taler Canada, 24 minutes)
    Cornered (Michael Downing, Canada, 5 minutes)
    Contrecoup (Guilherme Botelho/Pascal Magnin, Switzerland, 24 minutes)
    Boy (5 minutes, Rosemary Lee/Peter Anderson, UK)
    Burst (5 minutes, Reynir Lyngdal/Katrin Hall, Iceland)
    Cargo (4 minutes, Kelly Hargraves, Canada)
    Case Studies from the Groat Center for Sleep Disorders (7 minutes, Mitchell Rose/Ashley Roland/Jamey Hampton, USA)
    Horses Never Lie (6 minutes, Kathi Prosser/Caroline Richardson, Canada)
    Motion Control (8 minutes, Liz Aggiss/Billy Cowie/David Anderson, UK)
    The Duchess (15 minutes, Eric Koziol/Shinichi Momo-Koga, USA)

  • muscleman

    "Battle of the Year" was pretty good. The end credit dance montage in 3-D is awesome.

  • pajiba

    But Sawyer! These movies should never have actual stars on them ( but yes, outstanding final sequence).

  • Jamie Dello Stritto

    ...and don't forget my boyfriend, Josh Peck.

  • _Alexander_

    I never bothered much with dance movie. Although I liked the one with Jessica Alba and the one with Julie Stile. But that's mostly because I liked them

  • I must admit, I did miss your gushing over dance movies.

  • denesteak

    "the only way I really know how to measure them is to count the number of “Oh My Gods” that involuntarily slip out of my mouth during each film."

    For me, I alternate between "OMG!!" and "OUCHHHHHHH." The latter usually comes when one of the dancers decides to just crash onto his knee and pop right back up. It's a bit of a signature moose move.

    And hell yea, to the Step up 2 rain dance! Seriously still one of my favorites!

  • BWeaves

    Krunking? Do I want to know what that is?

  • stella

    I honestly just thought it was twerking when really drunk.

  • denesteak


    Edit to add: Actually, I think Dustin might have meant krumping, which has more of the "nastiness" he speaks of. Picture a person just snapping his chest back and forth, but in supersonic speed and with such force that you think he's gonna break it, and that's krumping. Crunking is more like... wiggling around? just being silly, i think?

    This one has elements of krumping in it, like around 37 seconds: (It also features Twitch! My fave!)

  • e jerry powell

    "Krump," not KRUMP.

    Kherington would have snapped in half had they asked her to KRUMP.

  • denesteak

    hahahahah yesssss. I was trying to find a better example of krumping in sytycd... which, to be honest, has all been softened, and you can clearly see I was not that successful.

  • llp

    Twitch is awesome. Kherington is a terrible, terrible name.

  • Her full name is Kherington Payne, so naturally there were "Kherington brings the PAIN" jokes. Or maybe that was just my husband. He loves puns, yet I still love him.

  • llp

    I love a pun myself. I sympathize.

  • e jerry powell

    Together, they were TWITCHINGTON.


  • llp

    *eye twitch*

  • pajiba


    Yes. That.

    /dangerously unhip

  • e jerry powell

    David LaChappelle. 2005

    Hie thee hither!

  • DeaconG

    I thought krunk=crazy drunk, so krunking=crazy drunk dancing?

  • I assume it's when Krusty the Klown dunks a basketball, but then I dance like Steve Martin in the Jerk.

  • You are correct. The best things about the Step Up movies, in order:
    1. MOOSE!
    2. Crazy dance sequences
    3. Pointing out the So You Think You Can Dance contestants (Step Up Revolution was super easy since Season 6's Kathryn was the friggin' lead)

    The water battle from Step Up 3D is my absolute favorite dance sequence of all the movies, but the rain dance from Step Up 2 The Streets (god what a terrible name) is a close second.

  • denesteak

    YES! I saw in the preview for this one that Twitch is in it!! I <3 Twitch.

  • The most difficult (though not most humiliating) part of the application process to become a Pajiba writer is the mandatory dance off with Dustin.

  • denesteak

    please let there be video recording of this application process.

  • Franchise that has gotten more mileage out of its limited concept: Fast & Furious or Step Up?

  • llp

    Fast and Furious, I would vote.

    I initially typed "vortex" instead of "vote" and I am disappointed in myself that I changed it, really. I would vortex, I really would.

  • emmalita

    I desperately want there to be a Step Up to the Fast and Furious movie where they blend and Charming Potato is revealed to be Paul Walker's brother or cousin and he has a dance off with Vin Diesel and The Rock. And there are overly complicated car chases. I think overly complicated car chases and overly complicated dance sequences would make an excellent movie. No plot required. But if there is one it should be overly complicated.

  • Salieri2

    Add a couple of battling drumlines & I'm in.

  • emmalita

    I'm not sure the audience would survive that much magnificence.

  • denesteak


  • llp

    Can you imagine the montage possibilities, though?

  • emmalita

    Ok. Imagine, please, an arena in the middle of a flat, dusty, treeless plateau. Why? Because Thunderdome. Or Night Vale. I don't know.

    From all sides, cars are racing towards the arena with a lot of dust being raised, artistically, and grim looking people jumping from car to car. Two cars, coming from opposite directions are towing shipping containers, in defiance of physics. The cars screech to a halt, nose to nose. Charming Potato and his lovely bride, Jenna Dewan, leap out of one car while replaceable Bad Guy #2 leaps out of another car. CP and BG2 begin to circle and a dance off seems imminent. Suddenly Vin Diesel appears and says, "No. We will take it in there!" and points unnecessarily to the arena. It might be The Rock who says it, with Vin Diesel saving his breath for an emotionally devastating "I am Groot."

    After some snarls and eye glares CP and BG2 separate. On the way inside the manly men have a growling talk about family and honor. Pecs touch and fists are bumped.

    Inside the arena CP, his lovely bride, and their crew of street smart dancer/drivers get ready to out dance Bad Guy #2. They dance. Bad Guy #1 gives a nod and one shipping container opens to reveal AN EVIL MARCHING DRUM CORPS! How can Charming Potato dance against that? But the The Rock has been around the block a few times and he opens his shipping container to reveal an even pluckier, street wise marching drum corps. Rhythms ring out like gunfire, capes fly, cymbals flash, drumsticks are flying and Charming Potato and his crew krump like no one was watching. Somehow this leads to the arrest of BG2, But BG1, the real mastermind, gets away setting up the sequel.

  • emmalita

    I do have a comma problem and Disqus won't let me edit so that I can pretend I'm not a comma addict.

  • kdm

    WAIT! there is a link to the first movie: Camille (Alyson Stoner) is Charming Potato's younger (foster?) sister.

    She's also the super cute little girl from the old Missy Elliott videos.

    ...I'll show myself out.

  • pajiba

    Woah! I totally forgot that. Nice! FULL CIRCLE

  • She KILLED it in those videos. I remember being so impressed (and ashamed that a small child could dance me outta the room).

  • Halbs

    I'm so excited about this one.

    Step Up Revolution probably had the worst acting, but I'd say it easily had the best dance scenes: the finale (above), the business suit/money dance, the modern dance (post-finale), and the museum sequence. The Step Up 2 "rain dance" is my all-time favorite. Fun fact: The director came up with the rain dance when he was watching a friend change a diaper and the kid peed all over everything.

    Mari Koda is also in Step Up 2 and beyond, so is Luis Rosado.

    Moose was in Will Smith's "Switch" music video.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Do I win anything for correctly guessing that Briana Evigan is the daughter of My Two Dad bearded bohemian artist Greg Evigan? (clearly, he was the hotter dad).

  • e jerry powell

    Greg Evigan with a beard.


  • laylaness

    She's so cute, too

  • llp

    I guessed the same, and that is my only take-away from this movie, I think. He was most definitely the hotter dad.

  • pajiba

    Without looking it up, I always remember Paul Reiser as the other Dad but I don't know if it was actually Paul Reiser.

    Edit: It WAS Paul Reiser. My other guess was Larry from Perfect Strangers.

    I also had no idea Staci Keanan was on Step by Step (that was after I'd bailed on TGIFriday).

  • llp

    I had forgotten the other dad was Paul Reiser, actually. I did remember Staci Keanan being on Step by Step, although I can't actually remember watching the show.

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