Step Up 3, or 3D, depending on which version you are seeing is likely to go down as the worst film of the year. Firstly, to comment I did not view the film in 3D, however, it doesn’t seem as if much of the film would’ve benefitted greatly from it just a few scenes here and there but it really isn’t worth the surcharge.
What needs to be said up front is that this film does have one true redeeming quality and that can only be conveyed by backhanded complement, so that should give you some sense of just how good it is. The film manages to be rather entertaining and close to magical when dance routines are being done, however, there is not nearly enough screen time dedicated to dancing throughout.
There are, however, plot complications that are unnecessary, contrivances which are laughable and all of which are cliché and bring next to nothing original to the table. It is the first film since Gamer, last year, which made me think that perhaps a bright thirteen-year-old wrote it. If that were true the writing would be pretty good as it stands it was not written by a thirteen-year-old and it is abysmal. There are too many disparate elements thrown together seemingly only behind the strength of the notion that “That would be cool.”
There is a dance contest which The Pirates, the troupe we are “rooting” for due to the protagonists, is about bragging rights but it’s also about the cash prize. Why do they want the money? To avoid foreclosure on their dance home, of course. This place is like a dancer’s equivalent to the Batcave and yet all 100 (give or take) people who are in there somehow can’t afford the rent but the editing bay, foam pit, soundproofing, boom box room, etc, they’re all manageable.
This rivalry between troupes is also rather hilarious because sometimes you can’t tell if it’s going to break out into West Side Story or a Kung Fu movie. Neither of which are really fitting here but get squeezed in anyway.
There is not only a very scripted-sounding documentary opening but a film within the film as one of the protagonists, Luke (Rick Malambri) is a budding documentarian. Yes, he’s the next Baryshnikov and Errol Morris rolled into one. But wait, there’s more, there’s a whole other plot which shares equal time for the first half of the film, vanishes and comes back; Moose (Adam Sevani) and his two lives, dance and Engineering, at NYU. As if that wasn’t enough Luke’s love interest, Natalie (Sharni Vinson) joins the troupe as a spy turns out to be Luke’s archrival’s sister and no one was ever the wiser.
I actually could go on. The contest to pay for a space is clichéd enough without adding the twin betrayal-reconciliation love plots and passion versus reason plots into the mix.
I could continue but dead horses need not be beaten. So what could make myriad bad plot devices worse? Bad acting, of course, come on down. Granted take this comment with a grain of salt as most involved in this film are primarily dancers but still too much of it was flat and ineffectual. The chemistry between both couples most of the times seems forced and the only one who gives their all and is somewhat winning is Adam Sevani. What’s more infuriating is that this film had another wonderful thing going and ruined it by cramming too many recycled storylines into. Had the film been simpler and had more dance numbers it could’ve been good. This was a musical, to an extant, that actually addressed a musical phenomenon of people breaking into song and dance in the streets realistically by having onlookers react to it. Being that it was in New York for the most part that allowed for some funny lines which at times distracted you from more “schmacting” by the bit players, but there was not nearly enough of that to save the film.
But that’s not all, the last thing that bears mentioning is the brief but comedically bad use of CG. It involves Icees, a grate, wind and unrealistic movement of said Icees when blown out a straw into the wind. It seems like it could not possibly be serious and it made me wonder if Woody Allen is missing an early draft of Everyone Says I Love You.
I suppose one other redeeming quality is that despite this being a very bad film it is not a painfully bad but is actually enjoyably bad in the tradition of Troll 2 but nowhere near as good/bad. The few things that were infuriating were listed above and they over-complicated what in a simpler state may have been a passable film. In the end it was an unmitigated disaster.