Dancing disaster

Step Up Revolution can't find its footing.

Step Up Revolution is something of a fascinating mess. Not because of any standout performances or inspiring dance numbers. There's nothing of the sort to be enjoyed in this dismal waste of screen time. Rather, this is a film that is so at odds with itself, it's tempting to read it as a diabolical subversion of its protagonists' quest to fight corporate greed. Tempting, but not quite as appealing as the suspicion that gross incompetence is the more likely explanation.

A group of 20-somethings calling themselves "The Mob" — which they leave in graffiti-style font as their we're-so-bad-ass signature — perform unannounced dance routines in the streets of Miami. Leading these flash mobsters are Sean and Eddy, a pair of nuclear douche bags who give a half-assed effort in their jobs as waitstaff for an upscale Miami restaurant.

Sean (Ryan Guzman) is the group's alpha stud, whose model looks are undermined by an attitude so self-absorbed and cocky it borders on toxic. Best bro Eddy is the punk-faced brains of the outfit, whose skills include looking up the group's online popularity and acting surly. After Eddy shows up late to the restaurant's staff meeting, he's fired by the new owner, Anderson (Peter Gallagher), who plans on leveling the neighborhood to make way for a chic development.

And just like that it's on like Donkey Kong, as Sean and Eddy put their flash mobbing in the service of protest art that will save the neighborhood. Complicating matters is the budding (and passionless) romance between Sean and Anderson's daughter Emily, who is a trained dancer. After seeing the Mob in action, Emily asks to join, a request that doesn't sit well with Eddy. Will Sean and Eddy ever bump fists again following the ensuing rift?

It strains credibility to believe the Mob could put on its elaborate, expensive-looking routines. But that's the least of this movie's problems. I have no idea how the filmmakers could expect moviegoers to take a rooting interest in a neighborhood they never see or in two assholes and their preening dance troupe. But if attitude is your thing, Step Up Revolution offers plenty of booty shaking, tongue-wagging and we're-so-hetero bro-shakes.

After a last-ditch, all-out routine, the Mob saves the day, as Anderson is won over by their pluck and agrees not to ruin the neighborhood (which is pointedly not the same as agreeing not to build at all). For their effort, the group is rewarded with an offer to put their hoofing skills in the service of a Nike marketing campaign. That cartoon dollar signs don't suddenly appear in Sean and Eddy's eyes, accompanied by the cha-ching of a cash register is about the only surprising thing in this depressing ode not to the art of dance, but the filthy lucre.

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