Monday, February 28, 2011

The Step Up-a-thon

Traditions are like the ratings for Two & a Half Men – they help to justify a lot of things. Not everything (hopefully), but just enough to allow you to condone blatant acts of stupidity. And so, as one television company has persisted in embracing Charlie Sheen, I have decided to persist in embracing marathon viewings of classic movies and the B-grade sequel spawn they produce.

Step Up-a-thon 2011 was its own sequel of sorts, a follow-up to the brain-melting Bring It On-a-thon of 2010. While BIO-a-thon contained a grueling 5 films, the Step Up franchise has mercifully only managed to release 3 world-changing volumes to date.

Once again I put the call-out to friends, housemates and colleagues that they could join me in the latest of my history making, taste-killing, logic-defying filmic outings. I offered them a world of pop, lock and robot moves like they had never seen it before. Surprisingly, very few people answered the call. Even the indiscriminate Peta, with whom I once sat through an unofficial Cutting Edge-a-thon*, bowed out.

Fi and Kat agreed to take part… and that was all that could be mustered. We decided to embrace the svelte bodies and toned abs with our own tribute in the form of baked goods. We had 309 minutes of cinematic suicide to attend to, it was time to Step up.

12:45pm – Step Up

Channing Tatum remains just as delightful to watch as always (though the jury’s still out on the acting part), his past as a stripper has served him well. All the best clichés were on show – boy from wrong side of the tracks, upper class girl with an evil boyfriend (the best shortcut to showing how evil the existing boyfriend is seems to be through his constant use of the word ‘babe’ and overt application of hair product, the more hair product the more evil and undeserving he is), the sassy friends from a minority ethnicity who will find fulfillment simply by providing pithy observations on the relationship of the 2 leads. Mick inexplicably parked himself in the lounge room for this installment, only managing to lightly heckle the proceedings while pretending to be checking his laptop.
Verdict = adorably accessible, stupidly melodramatic, almost manages to be as gritty as it pretends to be… it gets me every time. Extra props because Channing married his co-star and is still with her (if I knew how to swoon, I’d almost find this a worthy occasion).

2:50pm – Step Up 2: The Streets

When in doubt, reverse the premise – girl from the wrong side of the tracks, upper class boy with an evil ex girlfriend. But still, some questions must be answered… Why is hip-hop dancing considered an inexplicably threatening, borderline illegal act in this film? Have we accidentally stepped onto the set of Footloose? Why is there a trampoline in the floor? Who is going to break it to Briana Evigan that she’s not black? Did they simply come up with a catchy title and then force a plot around it? Should a film have credited script writers when there’s so little dialogue and so much dancing? Was Channing contractually obligated to return for 3 scenes to justify the ‘sequel’ label? Most mortifyingly, is this movie where I got some of the dance moves I tried and failed to recreate last Friday night?
Verdict = Stupid, while making me wish I could be part of a dance crew.

4:30pm – Step Up 3D

Bless their cotton socks, they continue to make the sequel numeral an oh-so active part of the title. They also seem utterly set upon giving a sense of continuity to the franchise, so about 5 characters from the last film are transplanted to New York for this one, plus 1 character most people forgot was in the first film. AND they’ve inserted ‘in-jokes’ that only become apparent when you’re watching all the films back-to-back. Add a bizarre set of fictional universe quirks that have vagrant dancers living in a warehouse together (while running a club in the basement), a man with a boom-box implanted in his jacket (all the better to dance-duel with you see), and the ridiculous, constantly used word B-FAB (Born From A Boom-box) and you practically have half a film.
Verdict = logic is dead, long live dance – only for people who are invested in the fate of a character called Moose, or intent on watching the careers of every single soapie actress that claws her way out of Australia.

This marathon may have killed dance movies for me for a while – by the end very little actually impressed me. I’m glad I claimed this now though, before Step Up 4Ever was released next year and the official Step Up-a-thon expanded out to trample what is left of my brain.

I will take suggestions for 2012, but for some reason a Fast & Furious-a-thon is sounding like a potential change of pace.

Painefull Out

* = the Cutting Edge-a-thon was unofficial due to the amount of fast-forwarding we engaged in (though that didn’t stop us viewing the special features section of Cutting Edge 2: Going For Gold, which included the lead actress sincerely explaining “It’s the timeless tale of 2 Olympic ice-skaters who fall in love while competing”… the timeless tale so nice they did it thrice… well 4 times now, a new one just came out).

And now for a few words from the HIGHEST paid television actor in the world…

“I have a disease?” he said. “Bulls—. I cured it… with my mind… it’s all good guys. Quit panicking. No panic, no judgment… You can kill me but you do not have the right to judge me… I can’t use the word sober because that’s a term from those people, and I have cleansed myself. I have closed my eyes and in a nanosecond I cured myself from this ridiculous… It’s just the work of sissies. The only thing I’m addicted to right now is winning. You know? This bootleg cult arrogantly referred to as AA now supports a 5 percent success rate. My success rate is 100 percent. Do the math! One of their stupid mottos is ‘Don’t be special, be one of us.’ News flash: I am special and I will never be one of you. ‘Oh, we have to all sit in here and touch ourselves and frown.’ Well, you don’t look like you’re having a lot of fun. I’m going to hang out with these two smokin’ hotties and fly privately around the world. It might be lonely up here but I sure like the view.”

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