Robert Hoffman and Briana Evigan in 'Step Up 2 the Streets'

Robert Hoffman and Briana Evigan in 'Step Up 2 the Streets'

This sequel to 2006's "Step Up" opens with a startling piece of guerilla theater on a subway train. It ends with a rain-soaked dance number that looks like an outtake from "Night of the Living Dead: The Musical." Sandwiched between these two unusual sequences are a whole lot of familiar ingredients.

Aside from a cameo by original star Channing Tatum, "Step Up 2" starts over with a new cast, if not a particularly new premise. Sixteen-year-old Andie (Briana Evigan) is a dancer with the 410, an underground hip-hop dance crew that performs on the streets of Baltimore. Rehearsals often take priority over classes for little orphan Andie, who is being raised by her mother's best friend Sarah (Sonja Sohn). When Andie skips school once too often, Sarah threatens to send her to live with an aunt in Texas.

Andie's only other choice is to enroll in the Maryland School of the Arts to study dance. This doesn't sit well with her partners in the 410, who dismiss her from the crew when she misses too many rehearsals. Andie retaliates by assembling her own crew of misfits from her new school, including smirky hunk Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman) and goofy dweeb Moose (Adam G. Sevani). Can Andie and her new friends win the city's biggest dance battle, The Streets?

The filmmakers hardly miss a cliche along the way, which wouldn't be so bad if the dance sequences were more convincing, but for the most part they're put together with smoke and mirrors. Good casting could have helped, but Hoffman is an uncharismatic bore, and smoky-voiced, bare-midriffed Evigan could be the next Demi Moore, if we needed one.

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