Before you read any further, you have to understand that I’m just a fat white kid from the suburbs. So, for me, when you say “step dancing,” I immediately think of Michael Flatley and The Lord of the Dance.
And even though I really can’t relate to what’s going on in Paramount Vantage’s new urban drama How She Move, I found the film to be somewhat enjoyable.
The story follows a high school girl who, after her parents deplete their funds to take care of her drug-addicted sister, has to move back to the ghetto. She is determined to get back to prep school, but without a scholarship or a load of cash, she’s helpless. Then a solution presents itself – win the national Step Monster dance contest. But to do that, she must become a member of a team.
As formula films go, How She Move achieves exactly what it sets out to do. It tells a relatively basic story that pushes the right buttons and has some pretty slick dance moves in it.
Sure, there are plenty of similarities to last year’s surprise hit Stomp the Yard. This time, though, it’s a girl in the lead. The story is at times glaringly predictable and unbelievably convenient. However, the film is impeccably paced and doesn’t bore.
The characters work for what they are and the acting is decent enough throughout. The real pitfalls are with some plot devices and remarkable twists that just seem too fabricated to really convey a believable story.
But ultimately, the biggest strengths lie in the film’s hard-hitting soundtrack and dance numbers. The moves seem stiff and random through the first part of the movie, but by the time they reach the Step Monster dance competition finale, they look really cool. And, to be honest, these last tow reasons are the drive that should bring an audience to the film.
How She Move is a full blown Canadian production that taps into the undercurrent of the American ghetto – sometimes too well at points. The use of slang and the urban vernacular is often extreme. I’ll admit that there were verbal exchanges that could have been in Norwegian for as much as I understood them.
But then again, I’m just a fat white guy from the suburbs. What the hell do I know?
The Upside: Decently paced with great music.
The Downside: Haven’t we seen this before.
On the Side: There must be a lot of Jamaicans in the Canadian ghetto because they’re all over this movie.