Newcomer Rutina Wesley plays Raya, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants who is forced to return to her drug infested neighborhood when her sister dies of an overdose. Feeling trapped and seeking a way out, she learns of an exclusive step competition with a $50,000 cash prize that could change her fate. With the prize usually won by male contestants, Raya must prove she has the chops to make the cut.
While the story feels overly familiar and contains few surprises, Move clearly puts its time and energy into its dance sequences, and viewers will be entertained with its awe-inspiring steps. The charms of the film come from its talented cast that includes the Julliard trained Wesley and her co-star, Dwain Murphy.
Leader of the all male dance team, Murphy is a familiar face in his Canadian hometown and won the role in a series of flashy auditions that left the filmmakers extremely impressed by his acting chops. Move also stars another unfamiliar talent, Tre Armstrong, a dancer who has toured with Missy Elliott and originally joined the production as a choreographer.
R&B artist Keyshia Cole and comedian DeRay Davis, the film’s two most recognizable stars, also make an appearance as MCs at the Step Monster competition.
Entertaining enough to please its intended audience, Move plays on the wide-eyed belief of redemption through hard work and is refreshingly optimistic. Given its predictability, the two reasons to see Move are for its rhythmic step dancing – which should come with a caution label – and its introduction to a relatively new and talented cast.
How She Move releases in theaters Jan. 25.