Forged in the same creative fire as ‘StreetDance’ and its sequel, ‘All Stars’ is a resolutely feel-good family comedy about a group of resourceful tykes who take matters into their own hands to stop bureaucrats from wrecking their local community.
“If we let adults make decisions for us, we’re going to have one messed up world!” defiantly declares one of the pint-sized heroes.
The glue that will apparently unite the warring factions is street dance, enhanced with traditional ballroom and martial arts.
Screenwriter Paul Gerstenberger follows a well-worn template, condemning a beloved youth club to demolition unless a bunch of talented kids can raise just enough money to keep the bulldozers from the door.
It’s clear from the start that the high-kicking upstarts will achieve their seemingly impossible goal, and salve the emotional wounds of various elders, including self-sacrificing parents who want their boy to put his dreams on hold to attend a posh private school, where his creative flair will clearly be extinguished forever.
Director Ben Gregor sets his modern-day fable in a sun-kissed vision of London devoid of street crime, drugs or poverty.
In this fairytale capital, Gina (Ashley Jensen) is the manager of a venue called The Garage, which provides a safe environment for local youngsters to express themselves.
Unfortunately, an evil developer, Simon Tarrington (Mark Heap), plans to tear down the facility.
“The community really needs us!” pleads Gina.
“They also need parking spaces,” sneers Simon.
Youngsters Ethan (Theo Stevenson) and Jaden (Akai Osei-Mansfield), who attend The Garage, vow to save the building from destruction by organising a talent show.
As the centrepiece, the lads challenge a local street dance crew to a battle against their own newly formed troupe including tomboy Amy (Fleur Houdijk), well-to-do siblings Tim (Dominic Herman-Day) and Rebecca (Amelia Clarkson), and exuberant Brian (Gamal Toseafa), who fears he won’t learn the moves in time.
“It took me four weeks to learn to tie my shoelaces!” he despairs.
The show must remain secret because Jaden has been forbidden from dancing by his parents Mark (Ashley Walters) and Kelly (Javine Hylton).
Ultimately, the boy must choose between disappointing his folks and letting down his pals.
‘All Stars’ is inoffensive wish fulfilment aimed at a distinctly younger audience than the ‘StreetDance’ franchise.
Stevenson and Osei-Mansfield are a likeable double-act and Heap camps it up as the pantomime villain of the piece.
Some of the supporting performances are a tad wooden and the climactic showdown lacks the pizzazz of other dance films.
However, choreographers Blue Boy Entertainment really excel in the visually stunning dream sequences, creating imaginative moves inside a ‘Space Invaders’ video game and for a battle between Jaden and three samurai warriors made of paper.
Star Rating: 3/5