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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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Junipero Serra: In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard. 
<p>Born on Spain’s island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis’ childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero’s desire was to convert native peoples in the New World. </p><p>Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero’s left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there. </p><p>Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two <i>conquistadors</i>—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph’s day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived. </p><p>Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra’s death. </p><p>Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous “Regulation” protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a “Bill of Rights” for Native Americans. </p><p>Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of “injustice” from some moderns. </p><p>Junipero’s missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988. Pope Francis canonized him in Washington, D.C., on September 23, 2015.</p> American Catholic Blog Hope and faith can outshine the darkness of evil. However dense the darkness may appear, our hope for the triumph of the light is stronger still. Though violence continues to stain us with blood, the shadows of death can be dissipated with one act of light.

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