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August 25, 2006
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Volume 34
Issue 34
 
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STEP UP

Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) is a hip-hop vandal who gets assigned to community service at a snooty art school. When dance student Nora (Jenna Dewan) catches him busting a move in the parking lot, she corrals him into filling in for her injured partner so she can rehearse for the big senior showcase. Will these kids from the opposite sides of the tracks fall in love? Will Tyler be inspired to make something of his life? Gee, what do you think? The bad writing and wooden performances - Tatum is even less charismatic than Josh Hartnett - could be forgiven if the dance sequences were transcendent. But aside from one choreographed nightclub scene, the footwork is as shoddy as the production values. Dancing shouldn't be this dull.

Grade: D

Kinsey Scale: 1 (Out director Adam Shankman is one of the film's producers, but he must not have provided any Queer notes to director Anne Fletcher, because there are no Gay characters on screen. What kind of art-school dance department has an all-hetero student body?)

WORLD TRADE CENTER

Port Authority policemen John McLaughlin (Nicolas Cage) and Will Jimeno (Michael Pena) rush to the scene when planes slam into the World Trade Center. But when the towers collapse, leaving them trapped and gravely injured, they need to rescue themselves. Oliver Stone directs this true-life 9/11 drama of courage, survival, and hope with atypical restraint and grace. Scenes of the men's dire situation in the ruined building alternate with those of their fearful families to provide a microcosm of that horrible day's events. What is remarkable is that while the early scenes - particularly those that use documentary footage - are disturbing, what emerges is something far more optimistic. Instead of dwelling on terror and tragedy, the movie celebrates the triumph of the human spirit.

Grade: A

Kinsey Scale: 1.5 (Stone previously made Alexander, about the bisexual Macedonian king, and JFK, in which he posits that a Queer businessman was a lead conspirator behind the Kennedy assassination. Pena had a small part in the Queer drama Star Maps. Among his co-stars, Maria Bello appeared in the homoerotic Auto Focus; Patti D'Arbanville made her screen debut in Andy Warhol's Flesh; Maggie Gyllenhaal had a role in Happy Endings; Stephen Dorff played tranny superstar Candy Darling in I Shot Andy Warhol; and Gyllenhaal, Dorff, and Michael Shannon previously worked together in John Waters' Cecil B. DeMented.)

ZOOM

Jack Shepard (Tim Allen) is a washed-up superhero - formerly known as Captain Zoom - who gets called to turn four gifted kids into a fighting force. But what the military hasn't told Jack is that his trainees (one's strong, one expands, one's psychic, and one disappears) have to be brought up to fighting speed in order to take on Jack's thought-to-be-dead renegade brother, Concussion (Kevin Zegers), who's about to attack the training facility. While the set-up for this comedy might sound promising, joke after joke falls flat with a deadly thud.

Grade: D

Kinsey Scale: 1

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