Cat Stevens once wrote that the first cut is the deepest. I wonder what we would have said about a million cuts. Besides a very loud "ouch."
"Step Up Revolution" may set a record for most quick cuts in a feature-length film. No wonder the movie needed two editors to handle the task. Matthew Friedman and Avi Youabian must have worked overtime editing the film's dance scenes with hardly any shot lasting more than 10 seconds.
The result is certainly frenetic and energetic and ideal for viewers with short attention spans. But what you end up watching is not so much dance routines as dance movements. There's a difference.
Consider the closing dance sequence in "The Artist," where we actually see the two dancers in a long shot so we can appreciate their dancing skills. One might jump to the conclusion that quick cuts in "Step Up" help conceal an actor's terpsichorean shortcomings.
That said, the dance numbers do provide the film with its raison d'etre as "Revolution" is the fourth film in the dance-romance franchise. A tip of the top hat goes to to choreographer Jamal Sims, who stages some very creative set pieces, beginning with the opening scene where dancers stop traffic on Miami's Ocean Avenue and dance on top of cars. Even more inventive is the dance scene in a museum where the artwork comes "alive" as dancers "emerge" from paintings.
So why are the dancers doing this? They want to win a $1 million YouTube contest for the video with the most hits. The dancers, who belong to a dance flash mob called, for some bizarre reason, The Mob, record their routines and try to up the outrageousness of each dance flash mob to generate more hits.
The Mob is run by two best friends, Sean (Ryan Guzman) and Eddy (Misha Gabriel), who work as waiters at an upscale hotel when they're not dancing. Into the picture steps Emily (Kathryn McCormick), an aspiring dancer who, as fate and formula would have it, is the daughter of the hotel's owner, Bill Anderson (Peter Gallagher). Can you see a conflict coming?
Before you can shake your booty, Sean and Emily are an item and she joins The Mob. Sean just neglects to tell Eddy who Emily's father is.
For a just tad more conflict, Bill wants to level the Hispanic community where Sean grew up to build a huge waterfront development. To try to sabotage this plan, Emily suggests a dance flash mob as the means. You see, Dad doesn't approve of Emily's dream of being a dancer and Emily doesn't approve of Dad not approving of her dream.
Anyway, not everything goes according to plan. Well, everything does go according to formula. Do you think Sean and Emily will have a fight? Do you think Sean and Eddy will have a fight? Do you think everything will work out in the end?
Page 2 of 2 - Yes, the debut screenplay by Amanda Brody is mildly predictable with no cliche left unused. We have the poor boy falling in love with the rich girl. For some sympathy, both come from broken homes. For some conflict, both are being pressured to stop dancing. But you know, everyone has a voice. And you have to fight for what you believe in. And sometimes you have to break the rules. And sometimes you feel like a nut.
OK, you don't go to a film like this looking for intelligence, but how about at least a nod to a decent story? The film acts like a throwback to the youth-oriented beach party films of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in the early 1960s. The difference is the music, while cheesy, doesn't induce headaches.
Scott Speer, making his feature-film directorial debut, makes good use of his background in music videos to keep the pace hopping. In fact, the film would have been better off as a music video. Acting just gets in the way.
And speaking of acting, wait, let's not speak of acting. Let's just say that newcomers Guzman and McCormick are easy on the eyes. However, if I see another male lead with designer beard stubble, I'm going to hunt him down with my trusty Norelco and shave it off, all off.
The key to enjoying "Step Up" is to go to the concessions stand when the actors talk and return in time to watch the actors dance.
Oh by the way, this film is in 3-D for no other reason than to remove more money from wallets.
"Step Up Revolution" is rated PG-13.