Arts and Culture

Movie Review: Step Up 2: The Streets

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Late last night my boyfriend and I watched a film.  Maybe you’ve seen it?  Here are some hints:  it was a story about passion, Being Who You Are, triumphing over adversity, getting past the sorrow of your mother’s untimely death, and the inexpugnable need to wear a sports bra as a top.  By now you’ve probably already figured out that the movie in question is Save the Last Dance Step Up 2: The Streets.

The movie takes place in the hardscrabble city of Baltimore, Maryland where, as we know from The Wire they keep gettin’ into funky ass shit, like, every single day.  The protagonist is, as one would expect in a movie about Baltimore hip hop dancers,  a white American Eagle looking chick named Sarah Johnson Andie West, who is totally bringing it in her effort to pursue her dream of being a street dancer. Yes, you read that correctly. Dancing around in a parking lot in an undesirable neighborhood while wearing a baseball cap artfully tilted to the side now officially counts as a career goal.

Not wanting to diverge from  a successful formula, the director avoided any major character development, plot changes or twists and stuck with the well worn, tried-and-true girl-with-a-dead-mom-moves-to-the-hood-and-tries-to-prove-herself formula.   Tyler ( Andie’s Caucasian male counterpart, who looks like he was conceived at a Dave Matthew’s concert in the shadow of Red Rock Stadium and born on the plaid carpet of an Abercrombie dressing room,) encourages Andie to apply to the arts prep school that he himself attends.  BUT, appallingly, the kids soon learn that going to an arts-centric high school doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want!  Not only are they expected to turn up to class, these milquetoasty teens are forbidden from participating in 'œThe Streets', an illegal (why?), dance competition where Baltimore finds out which of the city’s street dancing crews is the best!  Seriously.  The stuffed shirt principal of the school as well as Andie’s guardian Sarah (played by Kima from The Wire, who apparently, only works on projects set in Baltimore) expressly forbid the young people from engaging in dance-crew battles because of all the violent crime and street harassment that the practice inevitably brings.

But, gee whiz! Andie and Tyler wanna dance SO bad, and they’ve even cobbled together a motley crew of other dancers in the school who, for various reasons obvious to anyone with eyes, are complete social outcasts.  Their little wolfpack includes a nebbishy little Jew in the Shia LeBeouf vein, a nerdy Andre3000 style black kid, and an Asian girl so offensively caricatured as to seem practically retarded.  A nice group!

So of course they dance their asses off (somehow getting away with using a gorgeous studio space in the school during broad daylight hours unbeknownst to absolutely everyone),  practicin’ and practicin’ til their feet bleed and their elbows creak with every pop they lock, all in preparation for 'œThe Streets'.

'œSo when is 'œThe Streets', exactly,' you’re probably asking yourself right now.  Well see that’s the thing.  Nobody knows.  Nobody knows when it is until a mysterious text message is sent out the night before.  When it finally happens, everyone is ready, meets at what looks to be an elaborate music venue, complete with elevated DJ booth and flawless sound system, but which, we are made to understand, is simply an abandoned warehouse.   Hmph.

Oh, I forgot to mention this but earlier in the movie Andie, Tyler and the rest of the gang go to some club and try to step to the actual black people reigning hip hop crew, and they really stink up the place and everyone laughs at them because they’re nothing but a crew of outcasts led by two Berkshire’s summer camp counselors and isn’t it just ridiculous?  Suitably humiliated and destroyed they all break up for a little while and it’s really sad.  But then they get the text about 'œThe Streets' and it’s game on, mothafuckaz!

So our raggedy-taggedy crew of erstwhile hip-hoppers( including the poor, backwards Asian girl who seems to struggle creating even the most basic of sentences), shows up to the spot.  The place is packed to the rafters with Baltimore’s most talented, most streetwear-clad, most ethnic young people ya naaahmean??  And of course when our Honky friends appear everyone boos them, and clowns them and can you really blame them?  But then Andie, ever the pragmatic dancer of diplomacy, climbs atop a speaker and shouts at everyone to quiet down.  Mystifyingly, instead of beating her to death with her own throwback Adidas, they not only quiet down but listen to her give a speech about how 'œThe Streets' isn’t about turf wars or where you come from or how cheesy and overprocessed your hair is, it’s about DANCING. Hip Hop Dancing.  Getting out there and showin’ errrr’body whatchu got.  That’s right. Some Whole Foods-fed, Saab-driving white girl who I can just tell smells like fucking Estee Lauder Pleasures, takes the stage at an inner city dance competition to tell your ass What’s What!

If I were a member of the African American community I think that that scene would be just about all it would take for me to throw my television out the window and never have a fucking thing to do with any white person ever again.  It takes a special kind of egregious ignorance to not only find a way to co-opt an art form developed by the disenfranchised African American community, but to worm your way into it, and then turn around and tell the African American people'”the ones who made it up!'“that they’re doing it wrong.  Wow.

But what more could we truly hope to expect from a movie who’s poster tagline ends in a preposition?

Of course, no one in the movie takes that particular view and so Andie & Co. say Fuck It, you don’t want us dancing here? Fine. We gonna take it to the streets! The real streets! The ones outside, with gravel and broken glass and cigarette butts and shit! That’s right!
So they do, and they do and they dance  SO super-hard in the pouring rain which actually, works out really well because luckily someone in their dance troupe had the foresight to bring a whole mess of mini-LED lights that they put on their shoes and hold in their hands to better illuminate their awkward thrusting. Fortunately, too, all these people’s cars are parked in a row behind them and everyone cooperates, stupifyingly, by turning their brights on ALL AT ONCE cuz fuck the battery, this is hip hop!   Oh, and in another lucky coincidence someone present has a sound system in his car just loud enough for them to fill the entire parking lot with bass-heavy, oversampled Nazzz-tay beats.

Andie in the center, the poor developmentally disabled Asian girl in question to the left!

And while there is no actual judge, jury or anything resembling a legitimate skill evaluation, it becomes clear from the elated shrieks of the assembled crowd that the white kid crew knocked that shit outta the park!!!

And then Abercrombie-bot Tyler and walking tampon commercial Andie share a wet, rainy kiss under the sobbing, junk-shooting bilious Baltimore moon.

The end.

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BAS Writers

BAS Writers

BAS Writers is mostly a collection of articles written by people for the early days of this site. Back then nobody knew that snarky articles they were writing could come back and haunt them when job searching a decade later.

1 Comment

  1. adam
    January 19, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    you just got effed in the a!!!