Starring Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman. Written by Duane Adler. Directed by Scott Speer. PG. 95 min. Opens July 27.
“The time for art to be fun is over,” declaims one of the lithe hoofer-activists in this fourth installment of the Step Up franchise. Fortunately, the film doesn’t take her advice. A sequence in which a troupe of dancers weave themselves amid various modernist paintings and sculptures at the Miami Art Museum thoroughly collapses the divide between high culture and subculture. And if that sounds like a heady way to get into a movie that pivots on a plot point as old as (poor) boy meets (rich) girl, the fact is that Step Up Revolution has such things on its mind.
Its heroes are a group called “The Mob,” whose impromptu public performances are staged to garner web hits and a YouTube–sponsored cash prize. But when baseball-capped frontman Sean (Ryan Guzman) learns that a greedy developer (Peter Gallagher) is going to raze the waterfront community that he and his pals call home, he hits upon the idea of some high-stepping public protests—with the developer’s would-be-ballerina daughter, Emily (Kathryn McCormick), rebelliously kicking up her heels as well. Director Scott Speer and choreographer Crash use distinct dance sequences to convey thematic ideas: A rat race–styled number in a high-rise lobby, scored to a dance mix of Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song,” is a better critique of capitalism than anything in The Dark Knight Rises.
Guzman and McCormick are mediocre actors, but their body language is quite articulate. And if Step Up Revolution is not a profound movie, it’s still profoundly silly—and that’s not a bad thing.