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Dustin Putman

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Step Up 3  (2012)
2 Stars
Directed by Jon M. Chu.
Cast: Adam G. Sevani, Rick Malambri, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner, Keith Stallworth, Kendra Andrews, Stephen 'tWitch' Bos, Martin Lombard, Facundo Lombard, Oren 'Flearock' Michaeli, Joe Slaughter, Daniel 'Cloud' Campos, Mari Koda, Henry Shum Jr., Christopher Scott, Luis Rosado, LaJon 'Little Duda' Dantzler, Janelle Cambridge, Kathy Najimy, Frank Moran.
2010 – 107 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for brief strong language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, July 22, 2012.
The dancing is much more elaborate and the script by Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer is roughly twice as dumb in "Step Up 3," a youth-targeted romantic drama that should be crowd-pleasing to anyone who doesn't concern themselves with petty things like a good plot, multidimensional characters, and smart writing. Once more directed by John M. Chu (2008's "Step Up 2: The Streets"), this loose continuation to box office hits "Step Up" and "Step Up 2: The Streets" trades in a Baltimore setting for the Big Apple and gets an extra shot of style that blends the narrative, the dancing, and the music in a vibrant way that hasn't been captured before. Otherwise, it's really just more of the same.

Moose (Adam G. Sevani) and gal pal Camille (Alyson Stoner) have no sooner moved to Manhattan to attend NYU when Luke (Rick Malambri) gets a taste of Moose's street dancing skills and invites him to join his crew just in time for the World Jam Championships. Moose happily agrees, but it is a commitment that will put his schooling—he's majoring in engineering—and his friendship with Camille at risk. For Luke, the upcoming dance contest means everything to him; the cash price is exactly what he needs to pay off his debts and save the warehouse he's converted into a home and rehearsal space. As he draws closer to fellow dancer Natalie (Sharni Vinson) and she, in return, grows feelings for Luke, she finds herself torn between her allegiance with him and the secret connection she has to their crew's main competition.

"Step Up 3" opens with footage from aspiring filmmaker Luke's documentary on why people love to dance and what it personally means to them—questions that have never been fully explored in the previous "Step Up" films. The picture also includes a genuine show-stopper when Moose and Camille take to the city streets for a complex, marvelously choreographed set-piece scored to "I Won't Dance" by Frank Sinatra that, amazingly, is filmed in a single, unbroken shot. It's a major "wow" moment that puts to shame most of the ADD-riddled editing that typically occurs in today's cinema. The rest of "Step Up 3" is less inspired, going through the shallow paces while taking up too much time focusing on the uninteresting romance between Luke and Natalie, two characters who simply aren't very compelling. Everything boils down to the World Jam dance-off, a climactic showdown that director Jon M. Chu knows will be so familiar to audiences that he doesn't even bother trying to add suspense to the outcome. It's just as well. "Step Up 3" has a hip soundtrack and dynamic cinematography by Ken Seng (2009's "Obsessed"). As for the movie as a whole, let's just say there are boxes of hair with more brain cells than this morsel of dopey entertainment has to offer.
© 2012 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman