‘Make Your Move’ movie review

If you want a dance drama, Duane Adler is the man for the job. He wrote “Save the Last Dance,” “Step Up” (and its many sequels), “The Way She Moves” and “Make It Happen.” Now he’s back at it, writing and directing “Make Your Move,” a “Romeo and Juliet”-inspired addition to his guilty pleasure niche. But he’s also venturing into another genre: unintentional comedy.

Adler’s cheesy script was probably partially responsible for the giggles (and one snort) during dramatic scenes at a recent screening. But the casting doesn’t help. The movie stars Derek Hough, better known as the talented blond mainstay that all the b-list ladies want as their partner on “Dancing With the Stars.” When it comes to actual acting, though, one of his few credits was as a Hogwarts schoolboy in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” He probably didn’t pick up many thespian tips from his co-star love interest in “Make Your Move.” BoA (nee Boa Kwon) is a Korean pop star.

Donny (Hough) meets Aya (BoA) at an underground New York club called Static. The hot spot was a joint venture between Donny’s foster brother, Nick (Wesley Jonathan), and Aya’s brother, Kaz (Will Yun Lee). But the pair had a falling out and Kaz ended up opening a competing club with Michael (Jefferson Brown), a sleazy banker bad guy with all the nuance of Gargamel.

Donny knows about the bad blood and he recognizes Aya, but when he sees her dancing on a bar, he can’t help falling in love. So he does what anyone would do: crushes a couple of cans, tapes them to the soles of his shoes and challenges her to a dance-off. Before you know it, they’re going out for dinner, wandering the streets in deep conversation and getting busy in the bedroom — in a somewhat un­or­tho­dox way. When Donny invites Aya upstairs, it seems like he’s going to kiss her. Instead, he kicks off a pas de deux that seems like delayed gratification, but maybe dancers like that sort of thing.

Of course, neither Kaz nor Nick like this pairing. And the fledgling relationship seems like the perfect excuse for them to throw punches, brandish guns and spearhead negative social media campaigns. (Credit where it’s due: The fighting is actual fighting, not fight-dancing.)

Although the bit of bedroom footwork was more laugh-inducing than anything, some of the dancing really is spectacular. Scenes from the competing clubs include impressive choreography and gravity-defying moves. If only the poorly delivered, trite dialogue and predictable plot aimed as high.

PG-13. At area theaters. Includes strong language, including sexual references, and brief violence. 110 minutes.

Washington-area native Stephanie Merry covers movies, theater and art for Weekend and the Going Out Guide. She’s also the section’s de facto expert on yoga, gluten-free dining and bicycle commuting.
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