Nothing too bad can happen in dance movies. Though "Step Up All In" emphasizes the difficulty of surviving on a dancer's unpredictable wages, the film has a muscled buoyancy and thrilling, joyful spectacles that make the fifth installment of the popular franchise an energetic crowd-pleaser.
In line with its Vegas setting, "All In" is a testament to the gaudy allure and id-gratifying overstimulation that comes with excess. Director Trish Sie brings back several characters from the previous "Step Up" movies, resulting in redundant story lines about choosing love or friendship or the bliss of the present over ambition. But the romance between desperate Sean (Ryan Guzman) and cautious Andie (Briana Evigan) results in a brilliant dance duet at an amusement park after hours, concentrating an evening's worth of date with rides, stuffed animals and a near-miss kiss into a five-minute dance sequence.
Anytime Evigan and especially Guzman are required to emote with their faces instead of their bodies, the film immediately softens into flab. Fortunately, Sie packs in her exuberantly choreographed and staged dance scenes as tightly as beads on a necklace.
The nonstop movement gives the performers a bounty of opportunities to impress us as the plot ramps up to a competition between rival dance crews, yet the action never becomes exhausting. When excess looks this good, there's no reason to stop gorging.
"Step Up All In"
MPAA rating: PG-13 for language and suggestive material
Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes