Review: 'Make Your Move', Starring Derek Hough and BoA

If Duane Adler is famous for anything, it's his classic dance movies. Responsible for writing Saving the Last Dance and the Step Up movies, Adler has a penchant for underdog dance films that has left an imprint on our popular culture and made him a household name. Adler gets behind the camera as a director for his newest dance film, Make Your Move, but without the classic results of his past dance flicks. 

Dancing with the Stars reigning champion and professional dancer Derek Hough makes his acting debut as Donny, a down-and-out street performer who's six-month parole isn't finished before deciding to head up to Brooklyn and try to make it as a dancer in his foster brother Nick's (Wesley Jonathan) club. The club, which is really more of a Cirque de Soleil/Burlesque kind of style, used to be co-owned by Nick and his friend Kaz (Will Yun Lee), before a rivalry split them apart. 

Kaz then decided, with the investment help of Wall Street employee Michael (Jefferson Brown), who's obsessed with Kaz's sister Aya (BoA), to open up a club of his own. When Donny meets Aya, the rivalries between their brothers has reached its peak and everyone's got to get their act together before things fall apart and they all end up in places they don't want to be. 

Going into a film like this, there's the expectation that the dancing will at least be well worth watching, especially with Hough and Korean pop sensation BoA busting out the moves. Unfortunately, there isn't enough dancing in the film and leaves you wanting more of them to make up for the overly simplistic story. The dance scenes between Hough and BoA in particular are good, especially the pre-love dance scene, which has a lot of sensuality that's actually missing in most films, but it lacks any major drive that might make it exciting compared to what audiences are used to. It's also a shame that Hough doesn't choreograph anything in the film and sticks to tap dancing instead of ballroom dancing. 

There are a lot of firsts going on here; Adler's first time directing his own dance film, Derek Hough's first acting gig, and BoA's first English-speaking role. All of these things can be attributed to the fact that the movie doesn't ever cross the line into greatness. The dialogue isn't very good, there could have been a lot more dancing during the almost two hour runtime. One can also argue that it's far too dialogue-heavy and that this takes away from the dancing, which sometimes feels more like a sidekick than a main factor. The movie combines tap dancing, urban dance, and Japanese taiko drumming together, and while they mesh well together, there isn't enough of it. 

The rivalry between the brothers feels very contrived and arbitrary and a lot of what happens onscreen doesn't make very much sense and happens too conveniently. The draw between Hough's and BoA's character comes off less like they belong together in dance heaven, and more like somewhat of a forced attraction. It's the type of film that could very well turn into a guilty pleasure or could have gotten a lot of ratings had it aired as a TV movie, but doesn't have the chops to keep its hold on audiences on the big screen. 

Make Your Move is a movie you want to try to like a lot. The dancing itself is a big selling point for the film, but it focuses on being too story-driven and not dance-driven, though Adler does drive home the intimacy of the dances. The dance sequences are good enough, but nothing overly memorable save for the sensual pre-love scene that is beautifully choreographed and makes up for a lack of dancing overall. The film is too dialogue-heavy and runs a bit too long for a dance movie. The rivalry at the center doesn't feel natural at all and throws off the film, and a lot of the plot doesn't have to be dragged on for as long as it does. All in all, not Duane Adler's best.