You think you know. You’ll list reasons and form a tightly-wound narrative. You’ll sound so sure.
But really, you have so little true insight into why you like so many of the things you like.
Imagine you live on an obscure, tiny island that’s totally isolated from the outside world (no Internet or phone or mail). On this island, every single person, including you, is a vegetarian. Also, nobody has been exposed to a second of marketing or even heard of such a thing as a hamburger. You are teleported from this island to a “great place to call home,” the hilariously named Arkadelphia, AR. Given the massive toll teleportation takes on a body, your calories are depleted and eating is priority number one. Fortunately, you immediately find an interesting piece of paper on the ground adorned with the letters T E N D O L L A R S. You don’t know what this means, but you pick the paper up and walk into a building displaying the letters B U R G E R K I N G. It appears this place serves things people eat, just nothing you’ve ever eaten. But you are desperate for sustenance, so you point to the picture of a brown circle, and the person behind the counter points to the paper in your hand. You hand it to him and he then hands you some more paper along with that brown circle thingy. Amazed by it all, you repeat the process next door at a place called M C D O N A L D S. Then you eat both brown circle thingys. You like the one from B U R G E R K I N G more. Why?
Is comprehending our movie character preferences any less elusive than answering why this island-boy takes BK over McDonald’s?
At least in the case of Step, the answer is “no.” Director Amanda Lipitz surely believed she assembled a set of characters the audience would find fascinating: the beauty/drama queen leader, the shy intellectual, the firm coach, the weird parent, the negligent parent and the ambitious counselor.
Most of the time, I know, or I think I know, why I liked or didn’t like characters. But akin to the island-boy preferring BK for some unknown reason, none of Step‘s characters resonated with me for some unknown reason.
Cori came the closest. I cried when she was accepted into college.
That was not enough to rescue a film that tackled the well-worn subject of inner-city struggles in an uninventive way, and invention was necessary given the fact that the characters were so forgettable. The easy out could have been the dancing. If the dancing was 10% as cool as what a cursory Youtube search yields, maybe everything else would have fallen into place. But that low 10% threshold was never met.