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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Step Up All In

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Parris Gobel and Christopher Scott, front, star in a scene from the movie "Step Up All In."
Completists of the "Step Up" franchise may find the fifth outing in the dance-showcasing series, "Step Up All In" (Summit), enjoyable. Others will wonder where the plot went.

Intricate storylines have never been the goal in these films, in which scrappy, multiethnic dance crews seek an escape from their workaday existences by entering lucrative competitions. The series is a happy fantasy with a relentlessly positive -- and basically moral -- milieu. It's all about the kids showing off their moves.

"There's a magic that happens when you dance," Sean Asa (Ryan Guzman) says in the opening voice-over. "The world is in synch, and for one perfect moment, you feel totally alive."

So we get it: Gotta dance! But director Trish Sie and screenwriter John Swetnam come up hugely short on dialogue to stitch the terpsichorean segments together. And what there is of conversation is stoutly cliched.

As the movie begins, Sean and his team, reduced to auditioning for commercials, have washed out all their prospects in Los Angeles. So Sean's fellow dancers abandon him, returning to their hometown, Miami.

More or less undaunted, Sean finds a new dream online with "The Vortex," a reality-TV competition in Las Vegas hosted by Alexxa Brava (Izabella Miko). The winners of "The Vortex" will be rewarded with a guaranteed three-year contract at a Sin City hotel.

Within no more time than it takes to call out "five-six-seven-eight," Sean reunites with friends Moose (Adam Sevani) and Andie (Briana Evigan). Together, they assemble a new crew that features spectacular choreography, chic costumes -- and the occasional mild argument.

There's pluck, there's moxie, there's the old know-how, and sometimes someone blows out a knee or loses their nerve. But where there's a tapping toe, it seems, there's always a way.

Mature adolescents should have no problem with any of this, other than feeling deprived by the skimpy script.

The film contains fleeting sexual banter and at least one instance of rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi: Mystical ecstasy is the elevation of the spirit to God in such a way that the person is aware of this union with God while both internal and external senses are detached from the sensible world. Mary Magdalene de' Pazzi was so generously given this special gift of God that she is called the "ecstatic saint." 
<p>She was born into a noble family in Florence in 1566. The normal course would have been for Catherine de' Pazzi to have married wealth and enjoyed comfort, but she chose to follow her own path. At nine she learned to meditate from the family confessor. She made her first Communion at the then-early age of 10 and made a vow of virginity one month later. When 16, she entered the Carmelite convent in Florence because she could receive Communion daily there. </p><p>Catherine had taken the name Mary Magdalene and had been a novice for a year when she became critically ill. Death seemed near so her superiors let her make her profession of vows from a cot in the chapel in a private ceremony. Immediately after, she fell into an ecstasy that lasted about two hours. This was repeated after Communion on the following 40 mornings. These ecstasies were rich experiences of union with God and contained marvelous insights into divine truths. </p><p>As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, <i>Admonitions</i>, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious. </p><p>The extraordinary was ordinary for this saint. She read the thoughts of others and predicted future events. During her lifetime, she appeared to several persons in distant places and cured a number of sick people. </p><p>It would be easy to dwell on the ecstasies and pretend that Mary Magdalene only had spiritual highs. This is far from true. It seems that God permitted her this special closeness to prepare her for the five years of desolation that followed when she experienced spiritual dryness. She was plunged into a state of darkness in which she saw nothing but what was horrible in herself and all around her. She had violent temptations and endured great physical suffering. She died in 1607 at 41, and was canonized in 1669.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, keep me in your care. Guard me in my actions. Teach me to love, and help me to turn to you throughout the day. The world is filled with temptations. As I move through my day, keep me close. May those I encounter feel your loving presence. Lord, be the work of my hands and my heart. Amen.

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