Top positive review
124 people found this helpful
Up to something good
on August 12, 2006
This is one of the most delightful films we have seen in a long time. The story is warm, and meaningful, with excellent character development, plot, acting, dancing, and music. And it teaches morals and ethics, to boot.
Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) is a down and out, teenage foster kid, stuck in a family with a harried foster mom, struggling to support the family; a beer guzzling, TV-addicted, couch potato "dad" and two younger foster siblings, just as lost as he is. He hangs in his run down Baltimore neighborhood with Mac Carter (Damaine Radcliff) and his little brother Skinny (De'Shawn Washington), whose mother works at night, which is when the boys routinely get into trouble.
Tyler and Mac regularly jack cars and sell them at the local chop shop. On Saturday nights, they drop in at a neighborhood night club, populated by the occasional gunslinger, but with the best break dancing anywhere. And Tyler is a natural.
One weekend night, after being threatened with a gun and fleeing the club, Tyler, Mac and Skinny run through the streets, kicking cans and carelessly tossing refuse. Then one of them accidentally hits the window at the Maryland School of the Arts. Skinny decides to smash the window completely, and before long, the boys are in. They ogle the halls and showcases until Tyler finds the auditorium and heads for the stage, awed by the costumes, sets and props, which which the boys are soon dancing--and smashing.
Tyler takes the rap for his friends, who flee into the night. Sentenced to 200 hours of community service, he at first wants nothing more than to finish his time, mopping floors, changing lights and collecting trash.
But while making repairs on a ladder one afternoon, he witnesses a series of inept male dancers trying out as the partner for Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan). They trip, they fall, they drop her. They stink. She goes through them all, and then wonders what to do. She needs a stand in until her regular partner recovers from his sprained ankle. Tyler offers to catch her. She hesitates, but when he convinces her that he's serious, she is surprised to see that he not only can catch her--but do it gracefully.
An appeal to school director Gordon (Rachel Griffiths) wins her hesitant support for Tyler to temporarily take the role. Over the next few weeks, he helps her to rework the piece, jazzing it up, and adding several more dancers he has recruited from around the school. He also convinces her to let her talented friend Miles Darby (Mario), revise the music, after Nora's erstwhile boyfriend Brett Dolan (Josh Henderson) drops Miles from his group to sign a New York recording contract.
There is some really original music here, some great dancing, and a wonderful plot, emphasizing the importance of friendships. It's a heartwarming story of success in the face of adversity, and tragedy. A great family film that teens especially will love.
--Alyssa A. Lappen