This is one of those films that grown-up critics almost shouldn’t be allowed to review. It’s not for them. However the eight-year-olds who’ll probably love this aren’t known for their ability to write reviews and so it’s left to us oldies.
Okay, let’s start with the snooty film critic review: All Stars is derivative to the point that it almost feels like they took scenes from about a thousand other movies and merely changed the names. There is nothing in this film that hasn’t been seen many, many times before, which will have many people rolling their eyes at how unimaginative and predictable it is.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the other review: It needs to be remembered that if you’re eight, your narrative needs aren’t all that demanding and you probably haven’t had time to see the endless movies that share the same plot as All Stars. As a result, the film’s pace, humour, music and frothiness should ensure its target audience will enjoy it a lot.
The basic plot is that a youth centre is in danger of closing unless they can raise the money to save it. Jaden (Akai), who loves to dance, recruits Ethan (Theo Stevenson) to help him put together a dance crew and a talent show to make some money. Ethan agrees, mainly so he can impress a girl. A problem emerges when the only people they can get for their crew are misfits who know little about streetdance. As you can probably guess, their weaknesses are eventually revealed to the groups’ strengths.
To add a bit of gravitas, the film throws in tough family lives for the youngsters, such as Ethan having a father (Kevin Bishop) who’s not really interested in him, Jaden’s folks (Ashley Walters and Javine Hylton) wanting him to stop dancing and concentrate on his studies and martial arts obsessed Amy having a virtually mute dad (John Barrowman). It certainly shows why they want the centre to stay open, even if these issues sometime jar with the light tone of the rest of the movie.
It’s silly and yet fun, spending far more time trying to impress the audience with jokes and showing off Britain’s Got Talent-style skills than going for deep narrative originality. This is a slightly bigger problem on DVD than in the cinema though. This is a film made for 3D, with numerous sequences (most notably the numerous dance fantasies) shot in a way that’s designed to show off the third-dimension. Flattened down they come across as a little more random and feel like they weren’t filmed quite right (although this is purely because they were shot for depth). It’s not a giant problem, but without the attention-grab of 3D I can imagine a few kids asking why the film has suddenly turned into a game of human Space Invaders, for example. Luckily though these scenes are still fun and imaginative, even if it does feel you’re not seeing them as they were supposed to be viewed.
It’s simple family entertainment, and while we’re used to movie for youngsters trying to ensure the grown-ups are kept interested too, All Stars isn’t too bothered with that. It invests all its energy in making sure tweens will love it, and in that regards it’s a great success. In fact after watching it I can imagine many kids spending some time dancing around their living room.
If that’s how they’re feeling, they may want to take a look at the special features, as these include a few short featurettes where young Akai teaches the audience some of his dance moves. There’s also a fun ‘making of…’ featurette and a couple of other decent additions to watch to.
Overall Verdict: All Stars’ plot may be almost unbelievably derivative, but it doesn’t actually matter too much, as its intended audience won’t care the story has been done thousands of times before when they’re enjoying the humour, pace, music and endless dancing.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac