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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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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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