The "Step Up" dance-movie franchise is really just one movie that has been remade five times. The cast changes, but the plot barely does: There will be dancers with dreams, a high-stakes competition and a romance. The series may be predictable, but it's also proved durable, and the entries have ranged from frothily entertaining to at least watchable.
The latest, "Step Up: All In," goes into the latter category. It begins, promisingly, like a hip-hop version of "A Chorus Line," as Sean (Ryan Guzman) and his crew, The Mob, undergo yet another humiliating audition. "I want you to feel the feeling of using the product," says a judge as a hapless dancer gets creative with a roll of toilet paper. But the gig goes to a cocky jerk named Jasper (Stephen "Stevo" Jones) and his Grim Knights crew. We'll meet them again.
After Sean's team abandons him, he learns that a pop-star, Alexxa Brava (Izabella Miko), is holding a Las Vegas dance-off called The Vortex. The winners get their own Vegas show. Can Sean put together a new team and win the competition?
The film's middle third, in which Sean scours the street for talent, is what we came for. His recruits include Chadd Smith as the robotic Vladd, newcomer Parris Goebel as Violet (channeling both Salt and Pepa) and pretty Andie (Briana Evigan), as an injured dancer with trust issues. The most eye-catching addition is David "Kid David" Shreibman as Chad, whose day job is teaching the foxtrot ("Work those hips, Mrs. Turnbuckle") but proves to be a mesmerizing, sinuous break-dancer. Also returning are Alyson Stoner and the ever-endearing Adam Sevani.
Slightly sloppy choreography and Trish Sie's rushed direction make the dance scenes a bit of a jumble, and the movie stretches credibility -- even by this series' standards -- with a last-minute, on-the-fly routine that rivals Cirque Du Soleil. Still, there's an imaginative "Frankenstein"- themed sequence and a glimmer of magic between Sean and Andy when they break into a romantic dance on a carnival ride. "All In" is a lesser effort in this franchise, but not without its charms.
PLOT The fifth installment in the "Step Up" dance-off series goes to Las Vegas.
CAST Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam Sevani
PLAYING AT Area theaters, some in 3-D.
BOTTOM LINE Some eye-catching routines as always, but this entry feels like a lesser effort.