Directed By Ben Gregor.
This British family comedy written by Paul Gastenberger and directed Ben Gregor begins in the familiar setting of street dance as we meet two contrasting protagonists, the quiet, soulful Jaden (played by Got to Dance sensation Akai Osei – Mansfield) and fast talking future man with a plan, Ethan (Horrid Henry’s Theo Stevenson) who team up to create a street dance crew to save their treasured youth centre.
Jaden is a former street dance prodigy who has pulled away from his talents to focus on gaining entry into a prestigious public boy’s school. Jaden’s parents, Kelly and Mark (Singer Javine Hylton and Ashley Walters of Hustle and True Love fame) have pushed Jaden to achieve through education. Ethan is the terminally trouble-finding hustler – like his estranged father whom he idolises, and the emotional letdowns worry his mother, Trish (Girls Aloud’s own Kimberley Walsh).
The one place both boys can call sanctuary from their problems is the community youth centre called The Garage, run by the feisty but caring Gina (Ugly Betty and Extras star Ashley Jenson). Jaden discovers that Gina has been fighting to stop the local council from shutting the Garage down but she’s running out of time.
When Ethan meets the ‘girl of his dreams’, he is not deterred by the inconvenience of her street dancing boyfriend Kurt (Kieran Lai) but he sees an opportunity to get with her by challenging Kurt to a street dance battle – crew versus crew. Ethan has only two obstacles in the way of his goal: He doesn’t have a crew and Ethan cannot dance – at all. When Ethan sees Jaden dancing in the Garage after hours, he persuades or rather; blackmails Jaden into helping him put together and train a street dance crew. Jaden agrees on the condition that the street dance battle is used to raise money to save the Garage.
The pair put together a crew from the most unlikely talents –from the martial arts kick-start Amy (Fleur Houdijk), ballroom dancing toffs brother and sister Tim and Rebecca (Dominic Herman – Day and Amelia Clarkson) and overeating but expressive Brian (Gamal Toseafa).
The crew have to learn to utilise their specifically unique skillsets and incorporate them into their performing in time to face off against Kurt’s gang and save the Garage from being demolished.
Despite working in a saturated genre, this story achieves some great things – it has a simple yet compelling story with two main protagonists you want to root for and the story offers more than it initially implies – the wonderful surprise element subplots involving Amy and her depressed father (John Barrowman in terrific form) and Ethan and his father’s true relationship, are touched upon effectively and well executed.
The cast is an All star cast, mixing in real life performers and dancing talent with international stars. The mix is warming and heartfelt. Akai is a visually amazing performer and the visual set pieces involving his solo dance routines will not fail to keep audience attention. Akai as Jaden is downplayed and humble that he is very familiar to children pressured by parents to achieve. Theo Stevenson takes the ‘cheeky chappy’ role reminiscent of Del Boy Junior to a new level that enables us to connect with him emotionally and believe in him.
The performance by the supporting cast especially Houdijk with Barrowman were refreshing and genuine. Herman – Day, Clarkson and Toseafa provide a fresh brand of humour that pokes fun at their own situations without being derogatory (middle class kids and an overweight teen). Ashley Jenson, Ashley Walters, John Barrowman, Javine Hylton and Kimberley Walsh all deliver deliberately understated performances which echo about some very real and not so pleasant social issues like depression, damaged family structures, pressure, etc. They handle these issues with true sensitivity for the audience and respect for the story.
Gastenberger and Gregor have managed to create a fantastic, family friendly street dance film that even manages to touch on sensitive issues of family, responsibility and turning up to do something when everyone else says it can’t be done.