All the dance-offs fun, but that’s all there is to by-the-numbers film

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, January 24, 2008 4:45pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Movies that climax in a dance-off are increasingly common these days, especially if there’s an inner-city warehouse nearby. “How She Move” ups the ante by including a dance-off every 15 minutes or so.

This by-the-numbers outing tags along after Raya (Rutina Wesley), a gifted student who must leave her exclusive prep school after the drug death of her sister and her family’s subsequent money problems.

So Raya comes back home to the ‘hood (this one’s in Toronto), where her straight-edge attitude makes her a misfit. However, it seems Raya still can step — that is, step-dance.

You will either get into the athletic dancing when Raya first stares down her rival Michelle (Tre Armstrong), or you will find the spectacle of two women trying to intimidate each other by step-dancing to be laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Of course, the same could be said for the opening scenes of “West Side Story,” which is pretty cool.

“How She Move” doesn’t approach that standard. Director Ian Igbal Rashid, who did the offbeat “Touch of Pink” a few years ago, gives in too easily to the appeal of the music video. The dark, grainy look of the film is supposed to signify tough reality, I suppose, but it really just looks like style.

The big national dance-off at the end is fun, with a batch of different groups doing ensemble step-dancing. There’s some wild, strenuous stuff going on.

Still, Annemarie Morais’ script doesn’t make much sense even during these slam-dunk sequences. Maya has danced her way onto one elite dance team, but would it really be likely she would be able, or allowed, to switch squads at a crucial moment?

Everything that isn’t dancing is fairly lame in “How She Dance,” which comes across as a rote young-adult novel with music attached. But if you disagree, we can certainly have a dance-off about it.

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