Cashing in on the craze for youth-orientated dance films, director Ben Gregor’s first feature All Stars takes street dance to an inner-city youth centre.
Aimed at the tween market, the plot is fairly simplistic: Ethan, a Del Boy in the making who begins the film peddling dodgy North Korean chocolate bars, meets Lucy, the new girl and the object of his easily won affections. Discovering that Lucy already has a boyfriend (the head of a local dance crew), he decides the only way to win her affections is to beat him in a dance-off, the one drawback being he can’t dance.
Conveniently though, his classmate Jaden, a fantastic dancer, is itching to set up a talent show to raise money to save their local youth centre, The Garage. A partnership is formed and the pair amass an unlikely band of dancers to join their crew, including an overweight DJ, a karate lover, and a pair of posh ballroom dancers.
Akai Osei-Mansfield, who plays Jaden, is the film’s main dance talent and, having starred in StreetDance 2, he is building quite a reputation for himself. While his dancing is very impressive and the final dance-off raises the spirits, this is a film in the middle of an identity crisis. There is quite simply not enough dancing to make it a dance film, and too few laughs to make it a comedy.
The film tries to provide a social commentary, with the manager of the youth centre delivering a speech about how society is failing its children. The children’s parents are universally useless (with the exception of Ethan’s mum, an uninspiring Kimberley Walsh) and on several occasions the children disappear into an imaginary world in order to escape the realities of their home lives. These scenes, while visually interesting, only confuse the tone of the film further.
The acting is also rather wooden but, given the youth and inexperience of the cast, they shouldn’t be judged too harshly. The clunky script doesn’t really help them, with attempts to make the children sound cool and urban veering towards cringe-inducing.
Gregor has obviously tried to instill a lot of heart into his first feature, and the cast try their best to convey this, but with a poor script and a lack of focus it doesn’t have the moves to save it from falling flat.
All Stars is released nationwide on 3rd May 2013.
Watch the trailer for All Stars here: