Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wendy's Films of 2010 #89 and #90: Step Up (2006) and Step Up 2: The Streets (2008)

Every once in a while I have a desire to watch something I know is shitty, but will be satisfying on a superficial level. For a long time I didn't realize that I wasn't really getting anything out of these films and they encompassed about 50% of my viewing time. I've probably seen just about every crappy, mainstream romantic comedy released between 1998 and 2008; and though I'm not ashamed, I'm certainly not going to claim any present day satisfaction from those escapades. I'm trying to recall which film it was that made me realize that these were mostly a waste of my time, but it was sometime between He's Just Not That Into You, Valentine's Day and All About Steve that I started to opt out of just about every new romcom that showed up in theatres.

That being said, I was feeling pretty persuadable one day and the younger sister of a good friend suggested that we watch not only Step Up, but its sequel Step Up 2: The Streets. For a few minutes while attempting to remember the films., it was actually pretty difficult to separate the two in my memory and I found myself mingling the stories in my head. Mixing up one dance sequence with characters from the other film, giving Channing Tatum Briana Evigan's booty, and mixing up their various hoodie/sweatpant combinations. Really, it says something about the films that I can write about them both without having to specify any differences. One's about a boy, one's about a girl. They both end up at the same school, they both succeed, they both fall in love.

I wouldn't exactly call these two gems romantic comedies, or gems for that matter, but they follow Hollywood's generic mode of mainstream romance films, specially those for teens. They're intended to be inspirational, sending the message that even those growing up in less wealthy situations can achieve greatness. The problem being that they don't really have to work for it. Sure, they practice dancing, but both Tatum and Evigan already have the talent when their stories commence, they just need a bit of tweaking before setting out onto the world stage. I'm guessing it's really not that easy in the real world. But then, the moral of these stories aren't really about working hard and making it, the films are a money making machine that just want you to think that you can do anything you set your mind to for a couple weeks. Not to mention that you'll fall in love in the process: that's just a wee bonus of being in a Hollywood film.

When I think back on my teenage years and my love of Save the Last Dance I'll admit I probably would have loved these films. Perhaps I'm just getting too cynical or maybe I'm more analytical, but I just can't fall for them anymore.

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