This teen drama may be filled with some great-looking dancing, but its hackneyed, predictable script is a giant step in the wrong direction. Tyler (Channing Tatum) is a talented break-dancer who grew up in Baltimore's rough inner city. As a foster kid who's been shuffled around a lot, Tyler has struggled to stay out of trouble but hasn't always succeeded....read more
This teen drama may be filled with some great-looking dancing, but its hackneyed, predictable script is a giant step in the wrong direction. Tyler (Channing Tatum) is a talented break-dancer who grew up in Baltimore's rough inner city. As a foster kid who's been shuffled around a lot, Tyler has struggled to stay out of trouble but hasn't always succeeded. He and his friends Mac (Damaine Radcliff) and Skinny (De'Shawn Washington) make cash by boosting cars and hustling basketball games, and one night after a run-in with a local thug, they break into the Maryland School of the Arts and trash the "rich kids"' drama set. Tyler is the only one nabbed by the cops, and he's sentenced to 200 hours of community service, which he'll serve as the school's new court-ordered janitor. A thug to the bone, Tyler remains unrepentant even after the school's director (Rachel Griffiths) explains that many of the students in the school aren't rich at all, and that his costly little stunt means that one person won't be receiving their scholarship. Tyler makes fun of the stiff, conventional style of dance he sees being taught in the classes, and while pretty senior Nora (Jenna Dewan) pretends to frown upon his goofball antics, she secretly likes his style. For Nora, though, their meeting is perfect timing, since despite their obvious stylistic differences, Nora needs someone with whom she can rehearse — her usual dance partner sprained his ankle. The school's upcoming senior showcase has a lot riding on it, so Nora needs her carefully choreographed presentation to be perfect: Her disapproving mother (Deirdre Lovejoy) says if she doesn't get a dancing job out of the showcase, Nora will have to put her dancing dreams aside and go to traditional college. It takes Tyler some time and effort to adapt his street style to Nora's more polished moves, but his influence brings her dancing to another level. Still, neither his friends nor her boyfriend (Josh Henderson) approve of the way this partnership has changed them, and this animosity threatens to tear Tyler and Nora apart. First-time director Anne Fletcher has made her name as a choreographer for many notable movies, but while the splashy dance sequences are thrilling to watch, there aren't nearly enough of them to compensate for such a tired, predictable plot. And though both Tatum and Dewan are certainly attractive enough on and off the dance floor, their undeveloped acting skills can't carry an entire movie; a romantic subplot featuring R&B performer Mario and actress Drew Sidora nearly overshadows the main love story. And Skinny's "surprise" story line won't come as much of a shock to viewers familiar with this overworked genre.