How do you approach a dance movie? I feel that the story takes a firm back seat, in providing a wafer thin excuse to string some opportunities for dancing onto the screen. Granted there are some excellent storylines that come once in a while, but most times, you'd get the rudimentary dancer character who has to prove that he/she can dance to a group of nay-sayers consisting of peers or snooty judges, fall in love, and of course to rise above all challenges to claim the prize / gain acceptance from the community.
Brought to us from the writer of movies such as The Step Up and Save The Last Dance movies, here comes something that doesn't disappoint, in that it sticks to formula so that you know what to expect, nothing more or less. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who played John McClane's grown up daughter in Die Hard 4, and scream queen in Final Destination 3) takes on the mantle of the downtrodden dancer wannabe Lauryn, who felt that she's responsible for the family garage business, until she decides to pursue her dream by leaving the small town, and head for the bright lights in the big city.
Her audition with the Chicago School of Music and Dance was a complete washout, and confidence shaken, takes to the temp-ing at a lounge called Ruby's, where she helps to cook the books. But you can bet your last dollar that this is the venue with which she'll fall in love, with a fellow music engineer Russ (Riley Smith), while lapping the coincidental opportunities for her to showcase some of her moves, before becoming an established member of the pussycat dolls of dance.
Story aside, which packed a wallop with superficial antsy challenges from established peers, an unforgiving brother who couldn't fathom her passion, and a boyfriend who can't wait to get into her pants, coupled with the nagging thought of failure and that she's no good for the Ivy League school for dance, we're really here for the set dance pieces, aren't we? There aren't many of them which stood out, given that they aren't as innovative or fused some genres together to come up with an amalgam of moves, though the character of Lauryn probably was supposed to show how an unpolished gem got to go through the paces at a club, before coming through and achieving success by her measure.
And the lounge setting does provide for some sensual, provocative costumes to drape the lithe and tall frame of Winstead's, though I had to admit I thought her assortment of hoods, wigs and the likes provided for some convenient cover-up for a body double to take over, until of course I read that she had some background in dance. There are some routines that I genuinely liked, but the one at the finale, which should be the mother of all moves in any dance movie, was the one that seriously packed a punch, with improvisation, and a combination of ballet with hip-hop, without being too obvious or conscious about it.
Yes, you've seen one you've seen them all, at least for the narrative aspect. If you're patient to sit through the dramatic portions, you'll find yourself cheering with the crowd when the dancers take to the platform. Soundtrack too was nothing short of expectations, and I give it brownie points for the inclusion of a disco retro.
Salt N' Peppa Sayz Da Sista Got Moves Y'all!