‘Step Up Revolution’ embraces flash mobs

Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick costar in the fourth installment of the “Step Up” dance movies.
Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick costar in the fourth installment of the “Step Up” dance movies.
Sam Emerson/Summit Entertainment

Don’t roll your eyes just yet. “Step Up Revolution,” enhanced by 3-D and set in glitzy Miami, is not as cringe-worthy as you would expect from the fourth “Step Up” installment.

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Like all previous “Step Up” movies, the latest sequel has a love story between two dancers who come from different backgrounds and are not meant to be together — at least not according to some people. Sean (Ryan Guzman), a hot waiter at a luxury hotel, meets Emily (Kathryn McCormick) while breaking loose at a beach bar tailor-made for a senior spring-break scene. When waiting tables, Sean discovers that Emily is the daughter of his employer, developer Bill Anderson (Peter Gallagher). Bill wants his daughter to help run his business, but Emily has her eyes set on joining an elite dance company run by a character played by Mia Michaels, real-life choreographer and “So You Think You Can Dance” judge.

Directed by Scott Speer and written by Jenny Mayer, both new to the franchise, “Step Up Revolution” doesn’t repeat the standard plot device of street crews battling in over-the-top dance showdowns. Instead, the dancers, who call themselves “The Mob,” make flash-mob appearances in the street, at an art museum, and at a fancy restaurant in an attempt to win a YouTube competition offering prize money. (It wouldn’t be a “Step Up” movie without some kind of contest.) Sean, the group’s leader, orchestrates unrealistic flash-mob routines featuring perfect precision and special effects that help the dancers move in ways not humanly possible, but watching makes you wish you could join them for a number anyway. Emily also wants in after witnessing The Mob pop out of artwork and transform into sculptures at a museum, but Sean only agrees to give her a shot if she keeps her identity a secret.

There’s an inevitable big-bad-developer element that kicks in when Anderson buys land in Sean’s community to make way for luxury hotels. The evil mogul vs. innocent community story line has been done many times over, but not with flash mobs as a form of protest. Former “Step Up” stars, including “Moose” (Adam G. Sevani), return for The Mob’s last-ditch effort to save their home. I won’t give away the ending, but let’s just say even a 6-year-old at my screening left the theater dancing.