Movie Review: “Step Up: Miami Heat”

Image“Step Up: Miami Heat” taps into the dance “flash mob” phenomenon and moves to Miami to give us the sunniest and most entertaining of these kids-gotta-dance musicals.

The flash mobs — in traffic, dancing on the roofs, hoods and trunks of low-rider vintage cars in Miami traffic, disrupting museum openings and a developer’s planning meetings, are a brilliantly choreographed, well-shot and sharply-edited treat.

Well, except for one unfortunately-timed stunt involving a darkened room, smoke bombs and menacing dancers charging in wearing gas masks. And another, with dancers imitating machine guns strafing a crowd. Sad that the news intrudes, inadvertantly, on this late summer cotton candy treat.

Sean (Ryan Guzman) is the heart and soul of “The Mob,” a Miami dance crew that has its own DJ (Cleopatra Jones), hacker-planner (Misha Hamilton), dancer/special effects guy (Stephen Boss) and street artist who “tags” each of their events with “The Mob” (Michael Langebeck). That’s not to mention their parkour “stunt” specialists and the videographer who hides his camera in the darnedest places whenever they go out on “a mission.”

Stopping traffic and choreographing the jolly, bouncing low-riders they roll up in has got to be preserved and uploaded to Youtube. They want to attract so many Youtube hits that they win a contest and collect some cash. Because these dancers are from the one under-developed corner of Miami riverfront left — and the wrong side of the tracks.

Sean and Eddy (Hamilton) work in a swank hotel whose developer/owner (Peter Gallagher) has designs on the neighborhood the dancers call home. But his daughter, Emily (Kathryn McCormick) is a dancer, too. And being as attractive as Sean and his beyond-good-looking crew, she’s ready to add to her modern dance repertoire and go undercover for a little dance on the wild side.

“What we do is DANGEROUS,” Sean points out.

“I can’ just do whatever I want,” Emily protests with a pout. McCormick has the sexiest dimple the movies have seen in decades

“Sometimes, it’s good to break the rules,” stubbly Sean teaches.

Emily needs to free herself to have a shot at breaking into a daring local professional dance troupe. Sean needs cash and to be noticed, to have “a voice.” And the crew will need help from kids from the earlier “Step Up” movies (this is the fourth) to pull off their biggest mission.

Director Scott Speer from “The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers” knows where to point his camera, knows how to cut to the beat. Everything from parkour-style stunts and mime to salsa, krunking and interpretative dance is given its showcase here. And tapping into flash mobs, those Internet-posted delights in which singers or dancers show up, en masse, and delight a mall, a train station or a city street? Inspired.

But it’s not just the choreography that sells this over-familiar story. Speer peoples the screen with legions of jaw-droppingly gorgeous dancers, actors and extras — shaking what they’ve got in 3D. Whatever Miami go for posing as the 1980s Sunset Strip for “Rock of Ages,” this under-scripted, super-sexy cinematic postcard is the one the tourist board should post on its website.

Come to Miami. Bring your bikini. And your dancing shoes.

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive dancing and language

Cast: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Stephen Boss, Cleopatra Coleman

Credits: Directed by Scott Speer, scripted by Jenny Mayer. A Summit release

Running time: 1:37

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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