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StreetDance 3D

It doesn’t seem like many people read my reviews of these 21st century competitive street dancing movies, but I have a fascination with them, so here we are. STREETDANCE 3D is a UK entry in the subgenre and it’s from 2010 – six years after YOU GOT SERVED, four years after STEP UP, two years after STEP UP 2 THE STREETS and a few months before my favorite of all of them, STEP UP 3D. I don’t think it made an impression over here (I definitely never heard of it at the time) but it was the highest grossing UK production of that year, it got a sequel and even a 2019 French remake. For the record, I had to watch it in 2D (a 3D version was included on the rental, but it’s a DVD, so it’s the crappy red and blue Freddyvision). But it didn’t have that same “Man, I have to see this in 3D” energy that STEP UP 3D has.

This is the first in its series, but at first I thought it might be a sequel because the opening montage seems like flashbacks as our protagonist Carly (Nichola Burley, DONKEY PUNCH) narrates about growing up with “The Caliente Crew” (?). She’s actually introduced half naked doing a sexy dance for her boyfriend Jay (Ukweli Roach, Blindspot), leader of their crew who have been preparing for a big competition, hoping to beat the cocky national champions, Surge. It’s kind of a cool surprise that she’s the main character – I didn’t know that was her doing the voiceover and she seems like she’s just the girlfriend or even the one-night-stand who gets ditched like in the opening of YOU GOT SERVED: BEAT THE WORLD.

In fact Jay does leave her – after practice he abruptly announces that he’s “taking a time out” from the crew and the relationship and going out of town, and this leaves her in charge of the crew. Disillusioned that they lost their leader and that she didn’t know she had to pay for their rehearsal space most of the team whines and quits.

But Carly works at a sandwich shop (just like Special-K was a cafe waitress in BREAKIN’) and one day she’s delivering to Helena (holy shit, that’s Academy Award nominee Charlotte Rampling, BABYLON A.D.), a teacher at a snooty ballet school. Making conversation, Carly jokes about wanting to use the classroom as rehearsal space, and though clearly not believing Helena’s interest is genuine, invites her to come see her crew dance at the mall. Though they get chased away by security guards and even more of the crew decides to quit, Helena is impressed and invites Carly to rehearse at the school.

So, like the way BREAKIN’ has a modern dancer learning from breakdancers, but more like the way STEP UP has a street dancer and modern dancer learning from each other for a school project, this is a story about a ballet class forced to help a dance crew prepare for a competition, and they end up each learning from each other, coming up with new ideas, creating a hybrid style, bonding, etc. So it has everything I want in a movie of this type: satisfyingly formulaic story, some unintentional cheesiness, corny fashion/slang/music, a positive attitude about friendship and self expression, and attractive people doing tons of dancing in varied locations.

It also has a pretty good (though definitely underdeveloped) villain. Surge is an all male, hyper-synchronized crew who walk into clubs wearing sunglasses and blank expressions like they all are convinced they’re Diddy. They’re the cocky and unfriendly champs but there’s no reason to believe they’re bad people until, (BIG PLOT TWIST SPOILER) during a dance off with our heroes, they dramatically reveal that Jay is now a member of the group!

Let me back up a little. Remember, Jay is Carly’s boyfriend and former leader of her crew, who said he needed to “take a time out” and that the crew would be fine without him. Carly’s friend Shawna (Teneisha Bonner, a dancer in MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN and MARY POPPINS RETURNS) has been trying to get her to forget about him and hook up with ballerina Tomas (Richard Winsor, Hollyoaks), which she seemed down for in a scene where she spied on him rolling around shirtless in the dance studio, but then Jay showed back up in town and she immediately forgave and slept with him again. The next day he reveals his sinister plan that he didn’t think his team could beat Surge so he lied to them and just joined Surge and then also slept with Carly just to make the betrayal ten times worse. Unfortunately his only comeuppance is in the dance competition, but still. That’s a guy and a team we can all root against.

This brings up an issue. It’s kind of funny to me how angry and competitive people are in some of these movies. I’m sure there’s some truth to it, there are egomaniacs in every discipline, but it works better when they make a strong reason for a rivalry because otherwise any cool dancer should respect other dancers for being good and be able to appreciate their work. I was thinking about that early in this movie when the crew strutted into the ballet class with their sideways caps, baggy pants, exposed midriffs and what not, and as they and the ballerinas take turns showing off they turn their noses up and snootily scoff at each other. And I was pretty sure in reality they would be impressed and complimentary.

There’s a nice moment when you can see the ballet students starting to be impressed by the acrobatics, smiling slightly, moving a little bit, feeling out how to do some of these moves. But they still call each other fake dancers and there’s a big confrontation in the cafeteria that erupts into a savage food fight.

Here’s why this is a feel good movie: Rampling brings all her powerful presence to Helena, and she looks like she could be the tough critic who’s only won over at the end; instead she’s the subversive among the faculty, always supportive of these outsiders and the idea that their spirit needs to rub off on the ballet students. When these “riff raff” (as the ballet asshole in BREAKIN’ 2 would classify them) come in and get into a huge, messy fight with the paying students, she could temporarily lose faith in them or be forced by her boss to kick them out and then they have to prove themselves again or something… instead she tells them all to go out and have fun together, get to know each other. And it cuts to them that night, outside of school hanging out together, and it’s that easy! They have decided to get along now, and that’s that. I love it!

It’s fun to see throughout the montages as the ballet kids slowly start to change their clothing style to be a little like their new friends, or as the street kids attend a ballet class wearing, like, a ridiculous hat. One scene that takes advantage of the premise is when the streetdancers bring their new friends to see a dance battle exactly like the ones in YOU GOT SERVED and STEP UP and the two ripped male ballerinas decide to take their shirts off and do a bunch of ballet moves in the middle of it. I think there’s a mixture of befuddlement and awe in the crowd, but I like how confident they are about it. They don’t give a fuck.

The combined forces of the students and the crew are called Breaking Pointe (get it?) and the artistic respect goes both ways. Helena convinces Carly to come to a ballet with her. She wears a nice dress and rhinestone covered puma high tops. She realizes from the way everyone treats Helena in the lobby that she’s a legendary and respected former dancer. And they’re all nice to Carly.

My favorite supporting character is Isabella (Rachel McDowall, “CIA Flight Attendant,” QUANTUM OF SOLACE), a ballerina who towers over everyone Elizabeth DeBicki style and at one point confides in Carly about how people treat her for being tall. She looks cool doing both styles of dancing. I also liked seeing Stephanie “Lil Stef” Nguyen – who would play one of the main characters in YOU GOT SERVED: BEAT THE WORLD a year later – as one of the dancers who you see often, but I don’t think she has dialogue.

Burley is a good lead, in the tradition of the female leads in the STEP UP series – very sincere, good at dancing, cute, and prone to outfits that combine sportiness with exposed belly buttons. Like, hey, look, I’m just wearing a baggy flannel unbuttoned over a bikini top thing, because that’s what’s comfortable.

I guess some of the dancers in the movie were known (to people who know this sort of thing) for being on Britain’s Got Talent. This includes dance crews Diversity (who play Carly’s friend’s crew) and Flawless (who play Surge) and a young man named Eddie Sampson, who plays Carly’s goofy co-worker at the sandwich shop who (surprise) turns out to be a great breakdancer. He’s sort of the Moose character. Anyway, that’s why the poster says GEORGE SAMPSON FLAWLESS DIVERSITY on it.

I think it would be cool if this takes place in the Billy Elliotverse, but I don’t know how that would be established.

Directors “Max & Dania” (a.k.a. Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini) are, of course, music video directors. They did a bunch of Craig David and Westlife videos, if that means anything? They returned for the sequel and also did the 2014 feature WALKING ON SUNSHINE, which is “set to the music of popular hit songs from the 1980s” and seems to be to MAMMA MIA what STREETDANCE 3D is to STEP UP.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2021 at 11:12 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

19 Responses to “StreetDance 3D”

  1. just wanted to say i always enjoy reading your reviews of dance movies even though i havent seen most of them

  2. I would like to second Ron’s contribution. Also, reviews like these are ones that slowly build over time and works like that take longer to be appreciated. I think the person who spends a day making their way through your dance reviews is going to be a very happy reader, and their happiness would be partially-founded on the interesting thing of you writing a series over a long period of time.

    Have you ever seen Robert Altman’s THE COMPANY, or spent time on the excellent ToniBasilsHouse YouTube channel? Both of those are very recommended. The level of work, thought and influence that Basil has given the world semi-anonymously while still being a famous person is really amazing, and she has been a part of so much, including being friends with Bruce Conner! She’s famous, but to me she’s like Brian Wilson or Charlie Parker or something. There’s only one person cooler than Toni Basil, and that’s her friend Teri Garr.

    THE COMPANY is a deeply-moving love letter to art and, in my opinion, Altman’s least-heralded masterwork and one of his most interesting (and trusting) collaborations. Also, it features contributions from two of my heroes, Van Dyke Parks and Malcolm McDowell. One time I was working at a movie theater and talking to this person who was there to see some dance simulcast about dance movies and mentioned that one, and she got really happy and told me she was Neve Campbell’s friend and was going to tell her I loved it, that was the greatest.

    Vern, my dream is that some day you will team up with a brilliant choreographer and dance team and make your own contribution to this great genre. We all know you can write and I know you could direct, and I bet you do too. I’d love to meet the Vern equivalent to Moose.

  3. Also, what are some movies about the solitary dancer?

  4. SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER is kind of a movie about a solitary dancer…

  5. Hue fan of SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. It’s a timeless classic. Some really dark stuff here.

  6. “Upper class ballerinas & street dancers learn to appreciate and like each other” is exactly the kind of plot that I imagine from a British street dance movie. And I mean that non-judgemental. There are some really good fun and light hearted British movies about class differences out there. Although it sounds like they try to be more like their American counterparts, instead of making typical British cinema.

    Also I totally believe that the ballerinas would scoff at the street dancers instead of appreciating their skills. People, who are really good at one thing and love doing this, are often total snobs and absolutely dismissive when it comes to new things. Remember how James Brown got mad at Bootsy Collins for working with Deee-Lite, because they were using samples?

  7. CJ, Toni Basil was (and is!) a ballerina who loves street dancing, and greatly contributed to the development of the artform by bringing these two worlds together, in unity and on a world stage.

  8. I think I messed up the posting of that link.

  9. Oh, I’m not saying that EVERYBODY scoffs at new things or that it would be completely unrealistic that the ballerinas accept dancing outside of their own norm at all. There are always visionaries who see the new and combine it with the old. Just think of Bruce Lee! But I think a group of ballerinas rolling their eyes at a bunch of kids dropping modern dance moves to hip hop beats, is way more likely to happen than them instantly cheering and applauding their skills.

  10. I agree with you to an extent, CJ – I feel like that musta been the case in the 80s and maybe even a little in the 90s or something, but in this day and age I’d bet more kids get interested in the totality of dance through hip hop/pop videos and probably, like, TikTok or whatever than they do, like, being put into classical, rigorous and exclusionary dance training/culture at a young age. Same thing with classical musicians – I’d bet in 1963 that there weren’t as many classical musicians influenced by R&B, rock and hard jazz, but I bet you that a solid majority of conservatory students in 1983 really dug Prince, Van Halen and Miles Davis.

    Maybe I am giving people too much credit though, I dunno, this is all guesswork. Are there any dancers out there that could comment on this matter?

    How about Georgia! Are you allowed to play the Ewok song twice in a year?

  11. Yeah, if we are talking about the general public, they usually have no problem at all to adapt to new stuff, but as soon as you are deep into a certain profession, the gatekeepers are a-plenty.

    Just think of the wave of directors who even today downright denounce digital cameras as “not cinema”. And don’t get them started about the CGI! When Daft Punk released a few years ago their funk and soul album, “real musicians” still scoffed at the thought of people like Paul Williams and Nile Rogers working with those “awful Techno guys”, who only “push one button and let the copmputer do the work, instead of playing real instruments”! Shit, even in 2021 there is still a huge rift in the DJ scene, about self proclaimed “real DJs”, who play only vinyl, “real” House Music and are totally “underground” (despite being huge household names since the early 90s and having played every mainfloor from Berlin to Ibiza) and the guys who use Laptops in their booth and play EDM at huge festivals. (You would be surprised how many people call someone like Jazzy Jeff fake, because he switched to digital years ago, or are mad at Carl Cox for playing his 9 hour sets with modern Tech House sounds on four CDJs at once, instead of playing 150bpm speedtrance on turntables, like he did back in 1993.)

    So in conclusion, I’m really not saying that as soon as you are good at something that you love, you automatically become a snob who hates everything new. But gatekeeping will never die.

  12. I did dance in high school. It was modern dance and it was the actual class you take as part of the school curriculum, so it’s not like it was professional ballet training. But, no one there, and some of the girls were more hardcore into dance than others and we also had professional choreographers come in to work with us, would’ve turned up their nose at any style of dancing. It was all inclusive. Most dancers don’t train in only one style. They cross train in many styles. But I can’t speak toward privileged people devoting their life to ballet type of people. I can see more that they’d be prejudiced against a group because they’re amateurs rather than they dance a different style. They’re still going to be teenagers. I can’t imagine they wouldn’t like a popular style of dancing.

  13. I took a beginner’s Salsa class (after a friend dragged me to my first class) most weeks for a year in my mid-20s. I enjoyed it and as someone who struggled athletically as a kid, doing quite well in it did give me a boost of confidence that I think had a knock on effect in other areas of my life. Did feel like I’d had enough after a while though, and given how few people who were there at the start of the year were there by the end, I don’t think I was alone.

    This wasn’t my bag at the time, but I do remember it getting quite a push, and according to the (sometimes slightly sloppy but still useful) UK Box Office site it was #17 for the year at our Box Office, just above the Hayden\Jackie KARATE KID. I sometimes get this mixed up with ALL STARS, a similar film with a juvenile cast which came out a couple of years later.

  14. I always enjoy the dance movie reviews, I just don’t comment because most od the time I’ve never seen them. (This is no exception).

    But I am a sucker for the scrappy underdog crew of misfits bringing it on, as well as a big fan of choreography, so I should start checking out more of these. (I did like You Got Served, but I saw Torque the same day, and that one melted my brain so much i forgot about the former)

    I feel like The FP was one that was trying to be like these but a parody playing it straight. I wanted to like it but it felt too much like it was trying to be above what it was and mocking me for it the whole time.

    Sorry for the rambling. Long night.

  15. I just watched this one and it was a lot of fun. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Vern. After these last 2 crazy days I needed something fun.

    Funny thing, the only part that made me say, “ope, there’s a 3D shot” was in the food fight. There were probably some cool things in the dances but they didn’t stand out as obvious.

    The audio was weirdly dubbed though. It was so distracting at first I checked my settings to see if I’d selected something weird. It was almost like a foreign film dubbed into English. Either it got better or I stopped noticing.

  16. STEP UP 3 is probably the best dance film that makes good use of 3D.

    I don’t care for 3D myself. More of a distraction than a benefit myself. I am glad the fad is over.

  17. Vern, have you seen Street Dancer 3D, the Indian film from last year? I got to see it in 3D in the cinema and the dance scenes in it are spectacular. The only downside was that it wasn’t in IMAX and I was a bit bothered by the dim regular 3D projection. It’s actually the third film in series called ABCD, but I haven’t seen the first two films.

    Street Dancer 3D (Trailer) Varun D, Shraddha K,Prabhudeva, Nora F | Remo D | Bhushan K|24th Jan 2020

    Gulshan Kumar And T-Series Present A T-Series Films Production In Association With Remo D’Souza Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. & Dance Film Company Ltd. Uk, Bhushan...

  18. No, I haven’t seen that one. Maybe I should look up the series? I’m very inexperienced in Indian film. I still haven’t even watched the BAAHUBALIs.

  19. Street Dancer 3D is one of those cases where the film is probably not objectively speaking very good when it comes to story and character, but I enjoyed the spectacle so much that I would go see it again in IMAX if I had the chance. It takes place in London and the bad guys are an evil British crew, so it might make for an interesting comparison to these American and British dance movies you’ve reviewed.

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