Turn It Up (DVD) ½

Turn It UpI can’t remember the last time I settled down to a movie which wasn’t about "street dance". It’s all I seem to watch. Literally. The formula is old. Down-on-her-luck motherless girl reaches big city to make her fortune as a dancer. On rejection into the American Ballet Academy, down-on-her-luck motherless girl finds bar job where she spends her spare time dancing provocatively, winning the affections of those around her.

Now usually this formula is something of a winner, so long as the choreography is fresh and the dancers hot. And unfortunately for Turn It Up, or indeed those unlucky enough to be watching it, the casting leaves a lot to be desired. Smith plays our heroine Kate Parker so one-dimensionally, with a face I’d like to smack and a voice which makes my ears want to bleed. Not a good start. Tommy (Wormald) is introduced as Kate’s love interest, who has successfully made it into the academy but needs her help to become The Best. In a plot line unashamedly ripped straight out of Dirty Dancing and inverted, Bad Girl teaches Good Boy how to dance, but it is ultimately Good Boy who helps Bad Girl realise her full potential. All very well, but Good Boy doesn’t look yet old enough to shave yet, which is wildly distracting, especially in some of the more fruity love-scenes. If only he were half a Patrick Swayze.

The script and sound track mirror the plot – tepid and un-extraordinary, but director Jacobson does try to make this movie slightly digestible with some modern cinematography and camera trickery. This film also tries to deal with body image, as in one scene Kate tucks into a Snickers bar and is called "an elephant" by the other dancers. That’s about as close as we are allowed to exploring a controversial issue, though. As predictable as the A, B, C, but less exciting - don’t bust your gut to inflict this on yourself. Plenty of others do the job much better.


Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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