The upcoming movie Step Up 4 tells the story of a group of teen dancers who…take a guess…stage a big dance number to save their neighborhood from the predations of a developer.
Most bad movies are bad in the same way. Bad horror movies almost always need someone get killed by investigating a scary noise, preferably just after having sex. Bad cop thrillers have to have a police captain tell the protagonist that he’s a good cop who lets his emotions get in the way. Most bad 80s teen sex comedies involve a pack of silly twerps trying to sneak into a breast exposure festival in Florida or California. The associations are natural: horror movies sort of have to have killers and scary noises, cop movies often revolve around troubled cops, and teen sex comedies focus on boobs.
But what is the deal with bad dance movies and evil developers? How did they become the go-to villains in so many dance plots (Breakin’, Breakin’ 2, The Forbidden Dance, Step Ups 3 and 4)? Real dancers don’t often spend their time entangled with the affairs of real estate developers, except once in a while as trophy dates. Nor do I remember a time when tightly choreographed dance numbers actually saved a threatened building/neighborhood/habitat. I grant that a big dance number allows for a better climax than could be achieved in Historical Preservation Society Gets An Injunction Under Municipal Zoning Code NE-1240J: The Motion Picture, and I can even a dance contest saving one building in one movie. But how did dancing-as-developer-scourge survive as a trope in dance features long enough to become a cliche?
If anyone has an answer, put it in comments. In the meantime, the skipsters at the AVClub do us all a service by listing ten ways to make better dance movies than the ones we’re getting. Among their suggestions: talk to real dancers, expand beyond dance prodigies, and dump the developers.