Reprising the most cloying aspects of performance vehicles like “Fame” and the “In Step” franchise without bringing any fresh beats to the “Glee"-club, “High Strung” wears its tired let’s-put-on-a-show clichés as if they were neon turquoise leg-warmers.
Meet fresh-faced Midwest transplant Ruby Adams (Keenan Kampa), an aspiring dancer enrolling in the prestigious (but fictional) Manhattan Conservatory of the Arts.
Meet moody yet soulful Johnny Blackwell (Nicholas Galitzine), a British violin-playing subway musician who lives above an energetic hip-hop dance crew’s rehearsal space and faces deportation.
And there’s nothing like an annual String and Dance Competition to ensure these seemingly disparate elements will make beautiful music together.
Ensuring there isn’t a single moment that doesn’t feel programmed, director Michael Damian (yes, that Michael Damian), who co-wrote the cornball script with his wife, Janeen, dutifully stages every performance sequence like the music videofor Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”
While real-life ballerina Kampa has a nice, natural presence and Galitzine’s got the pouty artiste vibe down, his air violin technique proves unconvincing. In the end, you’ll either succumb to the silliness of it all and cheer Johnny B. on to his green card or, more likely, be in desperate need of your own exit visa.
MPAA rating: PG, for some thematic elements and mild language
Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes
Playing: In general release