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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Step Up Revolution

By
Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service


Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick star in "Step Up Revolution."
One adage holds that it's best to stick to what you're good at. It's too bad screenwriter Amanda Brody didn't take that advice on board when writing "Step Up Revolution" (Summit).

This fourth installment of the steamy dance and romance franchise continues to showcase the kind of top-notch choreography to which fans who dig fine shindigging have become accustomed.

Instead of providing a light plot to match the lively steps of the dance numbers, though, "Revolution" wanders off into risible pretentiousness. Stony-faced exchanges about protesting this and that and "breaking the rules" are more likely to make audiences cringe than reflect.

Throw in some risque routines—as well as a few turns of phrase too salty for the youngsters who would otherwise probably enjoy this outing the most—and the fun is dampened still further.

The hackneyed plot focuses on Miami urbanite Sean (Ryan Guzman). Along with his best friend since childhood, Eddy (Misha Gabriel), Sean runs a flash-mob group known as "The Mob."

Their version of the fad sees this ensemble of highly skilled dancers, musicians and artists suddenly appearing out of nowhere, providing their chosen audience with a jaw-dropping performance to be recorded on cell phones and immortalized on YouTube, and then vanishing.

With fame and possible fortune looming, Sean encounters the equally fleet of foot Emily (Kathryn McCormick), who's out to audition her way into the prestigious Wynwood Dance Company. Needless to say, when hoofer meets hoofer, it's kismet.

Pouty Em is busy rebelling against her millionaire father, Bill (Peter Gallagher), who, sensibly enough, wants her to abandon her long-shot dreams of becoming a professional dancer and go back to college.

Geez, Dad, what are you thinking?

When they discover that Bill—heartless capitalist that he is—plans to redevelop local land and raze their downscale neighborhood in the process, the truculent troupe, Emily included, go into Occupy mode. They plan a campaign of "protest art" to fight against the forces of conformity. Ostensibly of-the-moment references to social media and online hits, alas, fail to make this story any less stale than it sounds.

So in lieu of a fun-filled whirl across the dance floor, Brody and first-time director Scott Speer give us a surfeit of half-baked political posturing and self-indulgent sentimentality.

While the relationship between the two leads remains wholesome, that's not an adjective that could be used to describe the pseudo-sexual style of public grinding they favor. They leave no room for daylight, much less the Holy Spirit.

The film contains much highly suggestive dancing, a single censored rough term and occasional crude and crass utterances. 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.

*****
Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Jacopone da Todi: Jacomo, or James, was born a noble member of the Benedetti family in the northern Italian city of Todi. He became a successful lawyer and married a pious, generous lady named Vanna. 
<p>His young wife took it upon herself to do penance for the worldly excesses of her husband. One day Vanna, at the insistence of Jacomo, attended a public tournament. She was sitting in the stands with the other noble ladies when the stands collapsed. Vanna was killed. Her shaken husband was even more disturbed when he realized that the penitential girdle she wore was for his sinfulness. On the spot, he vowed to radically change his life. </p><p>He divided his possessions among the poor and entered the Secular Franciscan Order (once known as the Third Order). Often dressed in penitential rags, he was mocked as a fool and called Jacopone, or "Crazy Jim," by his former associates. The name became dear to him. </p><p>After 10 years of such humiliation, Jacopone asked to be a member of the Order of Friars Minor(First Order). Because of his reputation, his request was initially refused. He composed a beautiful poem on the vanities of the world, an act that eventually led to his admission into the Order in 1278. He continued to lead a life of strict penance, declining to be ordained a priest. Meanwhile he was writing popular hymns in the vernacular. </p><p>Jacopone suddenly found himself a leader in a disturbing religious movement among the Franciscans. The Spirituals, as they were called, wanted a return to the strict poverty of Francis. They had on their side two cardinals of the Church and Pope Celestine V. These two cardinals, though, opposed Celestine’s successor, Boniface VIII. At the age of 68, Jacopone was excommunicated and imprisoned. Although he acknowledged his mistake, Jacopone was not absolved and released until Benedict XI became pope five years later. He had accepted his imprisonment as penance. He spent the final three years of his life more spiritual than ever, weeping "because Love is not loved." During this time he wrote the famous Latin hymn, <i>Stabat Mater</i>. </p><p>On Christmas Eve in 1306 Jacopone felt that his end was near. He was in a convent of the Poor Clares with his friend, Blessed John of La Verna. Like Francis, Jacopone welcomed "Sister Death" with one of his favorite songs. It is said that he finished the song and died as the priest intoned the Gloria from the midnight Mass at Christmas. From the time of his death, Brother Jacopone has been venerated as a saint.</p> American Catholic Blog By immersing our lives in the rhythm of the season, charity can flood our souls and fill us with the happiness for which we were created. We awake Christmas morning prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior not as a memory but as a profound experience of God’s redemptive love.

 
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