A review of 'Step Up 3D,' a silly teen-dance drama from director Jon M. Chu, starring Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani and Alyson Stoner.

Share story

Of all the pitfalls potentially awaiting new freshmen at New York University, one I’ve never heard mentioned is the dance pimp. Early on in “Step Up 3D,” the generically handsome Luke (Rick Malambri) spies young Moose (Adam G. Sevani) dancing in a park, lures him with compliments, takes him to a dark-lit lair where other photogenic young people live and dance, and reels him in with the line, “Around here, dance is your identity.” But what about Moose’s engineering exam? And his cute friend Camille (Alyson Stoner), who doesn’t understand his secret life? And all the other dramatic problems plaguing the various members of this dance brothel, including near-bankruptcy, gambling addiction, dark secrets, stolen rehearsal footage and an unfortunate tendency toward horrendously stilted dialogue?

Shot in murky, Viewmaster-ish 3D, with plenty of arms and legs flying at the audience, “Step Up 3D” puts some very good dancers into some very silly situations: a dance battle in a men’s room; a mysterious masked ball; a storage room filled with amusement-park gadgets. But it’s not without genuine charm, particularly in a sequence when Sevani and Stoner dance on a New York sidewalk to Fred Astaire’s “I Won’t Dance”; just for a moment, the film’s frenetic pace calms down and the pair become a younger, goofier Fred and Ginger, reveling in the joy that dance brings them. “Some people learn to dance, others are born to” says someone in the film (which is full of people making such pronouncements); watching these two, you believe it.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.