Suggesting that multiple encores might be overdoing it, the blandly titled and assembled ‘Step Up All In’ is the fifth film in the street dance-powered series, the third in 3D — and its flattest use of the format yet — and also the third without the series’ only true star, Channing Tatum, whose combination of charisma and killer moves is again sorely missed.
Never mind the fact that this directorial debut from Trish Sie, a music video director and former competitive ballroom dancer, reunites stars from the four previous entries to try and compensate for that loss.
Almost cannibalistic in the way it seems to regurgitate not only the “Fame” and “Save the Last Dance” films, but also the previous “Step Up” films, this entirely vanilla dance celebration will do little to stop the series’ dwindling box-office returns stateside, though international success might keep it shimmying on for a little while longer.
It will be released in the U.S. today, but this L.A.- and Las Vegas-set outing already has opened in several territories overseas, including France, where the franchise goes by the it-does-what-it-says-on-the-can moniker “Sexy Dance.”
Continuing the somewhat odd tradition of working with a new screenwriter for each film, “Step Up All In” was written by newcomer John Swetnam, who penned the tornado epic “Into the Storm” — which, coincidentally, also was shot by “Step Up All In” cinematographer Brian Pearson, who is new to the series.
That said, the film could have been written by a dance movie plot generator, as it sees Sean (Ryan Guzman) lose his crew from Step Up: Revolution, the Mob, in a supposedly devastating dance-off with Jasper (Stephen “Stevo” Jones) and his Grim Knights, in an L.A. club. Humiliated and 43 days behind on rent — possibly the film’s only realistically detailed touch — the Mobsters decide to go back to Florida. However, the stubborn Sean stays on in La-La Land, where he finds a job as a janitor at the dance hall of the immigrant grandparents of Moose (Adam Sevani), who’s now an engineer.
When Sean hears about a contest called The Vortex, he just has to get a new crew together and compete, especially since the prize is a three-year Las Vegas contract.
The Ken Doll-hunky Guzman is again an insipid lead and his pairing with Andie (Briana Evigan) is a classical opposites-attract story with little to no chemistry, negative or positive.