Despite the fact that this is the "Dance-Off Edition" of Step Up 2 (for whatever that's worth -- there doesn't appear to be a non-Dance-Off Edition available), it should be noted that there is no dance-along footage on this DVD, like I figured there would be. I mean, I presumed that since High School Musical had a DVD where you could learn the choreography, the name "Dance-Off Edition" implied that there would be some sort of tutorial, but no.
My annoyance with the packaging and misleading marketing aside, this was a fine DVD, filled with a nice array of bonus features and some fun Easter egg-hunting to be had. If you haven't seen the flick, it's basically the same as the original Step Up, but everything is reversed. Instead of the boy being the rebellious breaker trying to get into the FAME-like academy in Baltimore, it's the girl. Instead of trying to get into the big school performance-thing and wow the stiff, upper-class audiences with a blend of contemporary and hip-hop, the odd couple are taking it to the streets (like the Doobie Brothers!) and forming a crew where they'll compete against real "street" dancers, who don't like people not from the neighborhood crashing their illegal parties.
There is little connection to the original, aside from the fact that it takes place at the same school in Baltimore and that Step Up star Channing Tatum makes an appearance and is friends with the troubled Andie (played by Briana Evigan) and helps her get into his alma mater. But aside from that, its a whole new cast of new faces. There's a lot of pretty people, a lot of funky moves and a pretty predictable plot that I'm guessing you can figure out from any commercials you may have seen, but if you like to watch people sliding on their heads or writhing around in the rain scantily clad, rent it now.
As for extras, there are a bunch of deleted scenes, which I highly recommend watching with the commentary on, because otherwise there's no context about what's going on, and it's just random dancing and is sort of blah. The enthusiastic first-time director Jon Chu intros each clip and explains why it got axed -- most of which amounts to the fact that there was too much plot and random storylines when really they just wanted to show more people dancing. Chu is kind of adorable, but feels the need to repeat over and over what a deleted scene is, in case you weren't familiar with the concept. But chalking that up to nerves and eagerness, he's mostly fine. Among the scenes are a "battle" between a b-boy named Rapid and hot guy lead Chase (played by Robert Hoffman). There's some cute stuff with scene-stealing Moose (newcomer Adam G. Sevani) who had a fight with Andie about dating Chase or whatever. And then scenes where they had mean girl Sophie (one-hit wonder Cassie) being more of a bitch until they toned her down. Also, another scene where Sophie/Cassie sings while they play a montage of "life sucks and we're never going to make it" clips, which was cut for being "too much like a music video." I kind of think the entire movie looks like one long music video, but at least when they replaced the slow, bittersweet Cassie song with something with a beat, it looked less like they were desperately trying to help Cassie revive her music career.
The best deleted scenes, hands-down, are the ones from the final battles that had to be edited down. Choreographer Dave Scott (who you'll know if you obsess over So You Think You Can Dance like I do) created distinct "crews" just for the occasion. We only get to see the full version of what they dubbed the "West Coast Riders," but it is pretty sick (in a good way). Then we get to see the full version of the Jabbawockeez performance. If you don't know who these masked men are, they're the winners of the first season of America's Best Dance Crew and they are mind-blowing incredible dancers. This footage alone was worth the price of the rental for me. (It wasn't that I was too cheap to buy it, just more worried about explaining to my visitors why I own Step Up 2: The Streets; I've got enough embarrassing stuff on my shelves without adding to it.)
Next up in the Extras world is a slew of music videos for songs that were featured in the movie -- convenient since certain music stations refuse to actually show videos and instead waste my time with the likes of Tila Tequila and Heidi Montag, but I digress. Notably the video for Flo Rida's "Low" is on here, which is the song that was used ad nauseum during the advertising campaign for this film. There are also outtakes of Cassie singing "Is It You?" but I skipped that because seeing her sing it during the deleted scenes was enough punishment for one night.
There's also the annoying Sneak Peeks, which I feel should be officially removed from the boxes of all films as they are not an Extra. They are commercials. Advertisements or trailers shouldn't ever be considered bonus features or a selling factor for a film on DVD. Rant over.
There's a making-of feature, "Through Fresh Eyes," that follows John Chu as he sets off making his very first film -- a big move from his days doing Bar Mitzvahs and wedding videos. His mom and dad cutely tell of how he was obsessed with the video camera at a very young age and they tried to take it away from him because they were afraid he wouldn't go to college. Oh, and the whole family tap dances. Chu chatters on about how he found Robert Hoffman a while back and was dying to work with him. And how the adorkable Adam Sevani sent in a video audition and they immediately cast him as Moose, despite the fact that he was the complete opposite of the original character plan. The making-of does delve a bit into how some of the actual scenes were filmed, like the cool subway scene opening and the final dance in the rain.
There's another feature about the "bad" dance crew, the 410. Choreographer Hi Hat talks about how she came up with their signature style and working with the different dancers, and the dancers talk a bit about being "street."
Also included is a video prank by Robert Hoffman. If you haven't seen the movie, you'll think this is lame. If you have... well, it's slightly less lame. But basically, there's this thing about how dancers do pranks and put them on YouTube in order to get invited to underground competitions. Hoffman's trick involves him confusing a poor convenience store owner by freezing mid-sentence and then breaking out into a group dance with other customers/friends of his. Weird.
Easter eggs that I found (with the help of the internet) show John Chu faking out Brianna before telling her she got the role, a segment about the background dancers (apparently the guys like it, because it means random hot girls are on set), a feature about Adam and Cassie's big kissing scene and another that is a sped-up version of a day on set. The last one is just a bunch of people dancing during post-wrap. Lots of popping and locking going on.