Saturday, January 20, 2018

Step Sisters: Movie Review


Whites vs blacks in a lame comedy.

Apparently, the world of stepping is just so popular that we needed a movie that combined Step Up with Sydney White, Pitch Perfect and Dear White People, but doesn’t take any of the humour or originality. In fact Step Sisters is even advertised as being from the director of Drumline, the choreographer of Pitch Perfect and the producers of Dear White People and Straight Outta Compton. 2018

Directed by: Charles Stone III

Screenplay by: Chuck Hayward

Starring: Megalyn Echikunwoke, Eden Sher

There are two main themes at work in this movie. The first is black culture, the identity of African Americans within that culture, and the misappropriation of it by Caucasians. This is of course the Dear White People aspect but doesn’t have the same sharp examination of racial tensions. So desperate to be funny with many of the main characters so caricatured that it ends up like a lame attempt to be cool as opposed to having something important to say. Which unfortunately, the filmmakers likely do have something to say. It’s apparent that lead character Jamilah (Megalyn Echikunwoke) is going through a crisis of identity in all of the choices she makes.

Images courtesy of Netflix.
It’s set at a fictional college, heavy on the Greek life of sororities, and extremely segregated – unrealistically segregated which again seems like an attempt to be funny that everything is over-the-top. There are black sororities and white sororities with very little mixing, and when a white girl (Beth, played by Eden Sher from The Middle) insists she friends with Jamilah, she’s met with a lot of incredulity and when Jamilah meets a black girl at the white sorority, automatically dismisses her as being not cool.

The race aspect of the movie is actually the better part, because now we add in a sorority and step competition plot. The white sorority girls have set a bad image for the school, so the dean has threatened to kick them out of the Greek system – unless Jamilah coaches them in the art of step and helps them win a big competition. It really is as bad as that sounds. Here’s the real kicker, the choreography is not the saving grace. There is very little in the movie, and even less good dance moves in the movie. There is just as much time spent on the girls being rhythmically challenged than their good competition.

Whites vs blacks is a pretty major theme in the movie, but one of the more curious aspects of that was the insistence that the white sorority girls weren’t good because they don’t have a real sisterhood, no respect for one another, but the black sorority girls do. That eventually gets resolved, but everything is included in the underdog dance competition story, and I think everyone can imagine without seeing the movie how that’s going to play out, and how that would make every movie worse, particularly a movie like Dear White People, which Step Sisters is most certainly not.