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'Breaking Through' is a dance movie without good dancing

'Breaking Through' is a dance movie without good dancing
A scene from the film "Breaking Through" (Katrina Marcinowski)

The world of social media celebrity provides a timely backdrop for the otherwise bland "Breaking Through," writer-director John Swetnam's retread of the dance film "Step Up" (Swetnam wrote "Step Up All In").

Hip-hop dancer Casey (Sophia Aguiar) and her crew are figuring out how to balance the practicalities of life with their passion for dance when they are discovered on YouTube by a talent manager. Casey is singled out for fame above her dancing buddies, and the usual cliché conflicts rear their heads with predictable results.

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These problems feel slapdash and entirely unearned, and Casey unfairly takes the brunt of the blame. But there's nothing that dance can't solve, right?

The plot is tired, and the performers seem as if they are acting in a high school play, but the biggest disappointment is the subpar dancing. The story grinds to a halt for long dance interludes that are set up as if on a stage — in long shot, filmed from a stationary camera, sometimes in front of recognizable urban landmarks such as the 2nd Street tunnel in downtown Los Angeles. For all the emphasis on creative choreography and dance talent, the dancing is boring and filmed in a way that doesn't showcase its strengths.

"Breaking Through" is curiously low-energy, riddled with hackneyed plot devices and weighed down by choreography that doesn't come close to what you'd see on network reality shows.

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"Breaking Through."

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes,

Playing: Arena, Hollywood.

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