A co-ed troupe of breakdancers team up with a mini corps de ballet to win a terps competish in deeply unoriginal yet utterly entrancing Brit musical “StreetDance.” Indebted to innumerable films about hoofers winning contests, as well as contempo, dance-driven reality TV (especially Simon Cowell’s international “Got Talent” franchise), hellzapoppin’ helming debut for pop vidmakers Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini is lifted by crack choreography, a fresh urban soundtrack and judicious use of 3D. Pic waltzed away with a £2.5 million (roughly $3.6 million) weekend gross after its May 21 domestic preem, and strong teen appeal looks to provide legs.
The shopworn plot, scripted by Jane English (whose background in young-adult drama comes through here), centers around amateur dancer and part-time sandwich-shop girl Carly (Nichola Burley, “Donkey Punch”) who dreams of leading her ethnically diverse team of b-boys and girls to victory at the U.K. Streetdance Championships. Desperate for a place to rehearse, Carly strikes a deal with ballet-school headmistress Helena (Charlotte Rampling, bringing a dash of elegant sangfroid to the proceedings): Helena will let Carly and Co. use her school’s studio if they incorporate some of the ballet students into their troupe, hoping the street kids’ passion wears off on her classical dancers in the process.
As sure as blisters result from pointe shoes, the two factions bridle against each other and then begin to learn from one another’s techniques, while side romances sprout (particularly between Carly and Richard Winsor’s studly Tomas). Minor dramatic friction sparks courtesy of a rival team, the Surge (embodied by the dance troupe Flawless, who along with the group Diversity, also seen here, were finalists on 2009 edition of “Britain’s Got Talent.”)
Approximately 70% of the pic’s running time is devoted to individual dance sequences, or montages showing characters’ progress as they leap around and body-pop in a variety of picturesque London locations and studio settings.
Ably abetted by choreographers Kate Prince, Kenrick Sandy and Will Tuckett, co-helmers Giwa and Pasquini opt to film mostly in long-range shots in order to capture whole bodies in motion, while editing by Tim Murrell adds rhythm but doesn’t undermine the perfs. Use of proper 3D (i.e. not added in post) enhances the experience. Pic was also released in Blighty via 2D prints, but it’s hard to imagine the pic not losing something in that format.
Thesping is by far the film’s weakest suit. Burley, so endearingly deranged in recent Brit pic “Kicks,” comes off as irritatingly insipid here. As a dancer, she’s upstaged by many of the supporting hoofers, especially astonishing krumping phenom Lil Steph (aka Steph Nguyen), who barely gets a line of dialogue. Pro dancer Teneisha Bonner as Carly’s best friend Shawna impresses both when speaking and in motion, but the rest of ensemble are quite rightly persuaded to let their bodies do the talking.