Step Up Anne Fletcher

It’s Flashdance meets Fame in a fight to the finish, though the audience is the one who takes most of the blows.

Tyler (Channing Tatum) is a street-dance prodigy who makes the mistake of vandalising a school for the arts. In one of those court decisions that could only happen in a movie, he’s sentenced to community service at the selfsame school where he falls in with privileged dance student Nora (Jenna Dewan). Nora needs a rehearsal partner, Tyler isn’t doing anything and presto: romance is born.

That the school is one of those Hollywood conservatories where they teach hip-hop dance and music production tells you all you need to know about the seriousness of the film, which traffics in "poor boy makes good” uplift but repeatedly softens the blow in a never-never land where everything happens easily. The few bumps on the road are caused by character stupidity or sheer mechanical need, and even when something dire happens it’s largely forgotten by the final, triumphant number.

That Rachel Griffiths is completely defeated by her humourless "by the book” headmaster role says nothing about her talent; it would take ten Oliviers and a Brando to pull off that underwritten affront. Granted, the film is populated by attractive people who dance, which makes the badness more tolerable than it might have been, but nothing in the film has any credibility — even the appreciative audience I was with was laughing at the more ridiculous conceits, though it didn’t stop them from swallowing the film en masse.

There are teenagers for whom this will be dreamy, but anyone who is an adult or planning to become one will be groaning. (Touchstone/Buena Vista)