Yet another movie (see also: "Step Up 2: No We're Not Kidding, We Actually Made a Sequel", "Feel the Noise", "Stomp the Yard", "You Got Served" and others) where a thin thread of a plot is tailored around dance moves, "How She Move" takes place on the frozen (the characters look like they have to dance just to keep warm) streets of Toronto and focuses on Raya (Rutina Wesley), whose sister has just passed away from an overdose. Raya had left the neighborhood to go to a high-end school, but comes back after her she finds that money had gone to fighting her sister's drug addiction.
When she comes back to public school, those she knew in the past aren't proud of her, but instead seem upset with her prior departure from the neighborhood. Still, she presses forward and tries to build her life back up again with the goal being a return to the school she was forced to leave. An opportunity presents itself in the form of a step contest, where the grand prize is $50,000.
Looking for a team to work with, she sees a potential leader in old friend Bishop (Dwain Murphy). The remainder of the film settles a few conflicts between the characters, shows a few obstacles and - not surprisingly - leads to the big dance contest. The dance moves are impressive, but the movie focuses more on the drama, which doesn't excite or engage, given the fact that we've seen other films similar to this now several times in the last two years.
The movie's low-budget, gritty visual style does actually manage to work in its favor in comparison with the kind of slick, polished dance films (which look like music videos) of the past year. The film also puts the Toronto settings to good use, as well. However, the acting and writing trips the picture, with a formulaic script and performances that just don't provide enough energy. This is a mild improvement over the rest of the "dance" pictures that have stepped into theatres recently, but it's still largely a cliched picture whose positive aspects don't allow it to rise above being forgettable.
VIDEO: The film was shot on 16mm and is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is reasonably good, considering the low-budget origins of the picture. Sharpness and detail aren't remarkable, but at least remain consistently respectable. Some grain is present at almost all times, but given the 16mm filming, I expected a grainier appearance. Some minor edge enhancement was also spotted, but in amounts small enough to not be particularly distracting. Colors are subdued, but that appears to be the intended look, and what colors are seen are reproduced pretty well.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation certainly offers the score up well, but otherwise remains rather low-key, with little in the way of surround use. The mostly forward-heavy sound mix is largely dialogue-driven and offers fine audio quality, with crisp dialogue and bassy score.
EXTRAS: "The Characters of How She Move" featurette, "How She Move: Telling Her Story" and "From Rehearsal to Film". The trailer is also included.
Final Thoughts: "How She Move" proves more gritty and tries to be something beyond a 2-hour music video, but the story just doesn't engage and the performances are just fair. The DVD presentation offers up fine audio/video quality, as well as a short set of supplements. Those who haven't tired of the hip-hop dance genre may want to try this as a rental. Otherwise, skip it.
The Film C-