You could be forgiven for thinking while you are in the middle of it, that Step Up Revolution is the worst movie you’ve ever seen, but then you remember that you just watched Battleship immediately prior to this one, and…oh wait, I’ve been down this road before.
Yes, Step Up Revolution is the next step along my recent slate of films on an intercontinental flight, and in spite of not being the same movie as Battleship at all, it has an uncommon number of things in common with it. First of all, it’s terrible. But then, really, we all knew that coming in. Nonetheless, I was drawn in by the shear AWESOMENESS of the trailer, with those AWESOME dancers dancing AWESOME dance moves for those AWESOMELY choreographed…flash mobs. Consequently, it fit my desire for a plane movie perfectly: something I’m curious to see but don’t want to spend any money or even really time on. And it didn’t disappoint – the shear AWESOMENESS of the dance sequences is only paralleled by the sound effects editing, with all sorts of “Ohhhs!” and “Aaahs!” edited in to help us know when something particularly awesome is happening (weirdly, by having them usually before the awesome thing, rather than after it). I only wish I had access to a more lightning-charged font that I could use to write my AWESOME’s to more adequately express the sentiment. I mean, come on, this is a movie about finding your voice…through flash mobs! About being heard...through flash mobs! About making your statement to the world…through flash mobs! Flash mobs! Flash mobs! I just can’t say it enough!
Other similarities to Battleship include 1. The main character’s more responsible older sibling tries to convince their younger brother to take a “normal” job that they don’t want anything to do with, 2. A character in uniform arrives late to a meeting to the irritation of their boss / commanding officer, 3. The girl the lead character meets by chance and gets involved with is actually the daughter of his (future) boss, 4. that father is played by an actor who is better known than anyone else in the movie (in this case it’s Peter Gallagher, who isn’t all that famous, but certainly the most recognizable actor anywhere in this project), and 5. it’s about / based on something that we never really expected or imagined a movie to be made of.
Now, unlike Battleship, this movie does get where it’s going right from the beginning, as “The Mob” – a gang of underground…(snort, chuckle)…flash-mobbers from Miami make a big splash by interrupting traffic with aperformance that includes cars that bounce up and down on their back wheels. The leaders of the Mob work dead end jobs as waiters and busboys in a big hotel, and their motive, we learn, is to win a Youtube contest so they can make money and be famous. No mention is made of how they get the money to afford all the costumes and special effects they use for their dances, but whatever. In between the various flash mobs, there are usually uncomfortably sensuous dances with girls in slinkly outfits, and the first of these is a dance off between the lead guy, Sean, and his love interest, Emily, at the beach. Emily of course turns out to be the daughter of the owner of the hotel who intends to rip down the entire neighborhood in order to build yet another hotel. When the Mob find out about this, they are convinced by Emily to turn their energy toward protest…er, flashmobbing…to try to convince the guy to go wreck somebody else’s neighborhood instead. This goes well, except foolishly, Sean and Emily don’t tell their friends who Emily actually is, and when they find out, the Mob all go crazy and stage a particularly mean spirited flash mob, which results in Emily being humiliated, the Mob losing public support, and worst of all, the heroes disqualified from the Youtube contest.
Blaming her boyfriend, Emily leaves Sean and the Mob falls apart. But not to worry, it doesn’t last long, and before you know it, all is forgiven and the team is back together again, and back at it with one final awesomely awesome flash mob that is so big they have to invite extra dancers to help them with it (who I now realize appear in Step Up 3, which I have never seen). This wins back the good will of the public, makes a fan out of the Mayor of Miami, and finally convinces big business to play nicely. So in the end, the Mob finds themselves again, and are able not only to make their statement, but they also get signed to sell Nike shoes. So really, this is a movie that appeals to people of all value systems.
Now, in all seriousness, as absurd as the whole movie is, the flash mobs are impressive – with good (to my untrained eye) dancing, and special effects & choreography that certainly would have been a sight to see in real life. And for many, maybe that’s all they were looking for, and the mediocre characterizations and paper-thin plot were completely satisfying. They weren’t for me. It’s not that I was looking for much, just something on the level of, say, The Fast and the Furious or something like that. But alas, it fell well-short of those lofty heights. Still, it is probably the best movie ever made up about flash mobs…so far. Hopefully someday, someone will realize their true cinematic potential and make a truly AWESOME movie, but that day has not come yet.