How She Move

A Great Film . . . for fans of Stomp the Yard, Step Up, and Save the Last Dance -- 1.5 stars

Directed by Ian Iqbal Rashid. January 2008, Canada/USA. Rated PG-13: 94 min.

(Originally published in buzz magazine on 1/26/2008)

She thought she outgrew the inner city — that she left the vicious cycle of urban crime and poverty behind to attend a private school in a white bread suburb. But when her sister died, Raya (Rutina Wesley) ran out of money and returned to face the life she hoped to escape. She almost immediately comes into conflict with Michelle (Tracey Armstrong), an old friend still embittered by the fact that Raya considers herself too good for the ghetto. After the high school principal discovers Raya and Michelle’s bickering escalated into a full-blown fistfight, she forces Raya to tutor Michelle twice a week in exchange for not permanently damaging her academic record with a suspension. Frustrated and desperate to escape her hellish condition, Raya turns to competitive Step dancing as a means to afford private school tuition.

How She Move attempts to juggle too many subplots for its own good. Raya finds herself attracted to Bishop, the leader of a Step crew, but knows that between dance practice and studying for scholarship tests, she has no time to spare for romance. On top of this, she also seems to have a crush on Bishop’s book-smart younger brother. Her parents’ love-hate relationship with each other also factors in, as does the disappearance of a family heirloom. In short, an overuse of generic dance competition footage trumps the film’s noble goal of constructing a tangled web of complicated relationships.