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All Stars

Dir: Ben Gregor. UK. 2013. 100mins

A good and resolutely feel-good family film, youthful British dance film All Stars (a sort-off spin-off from successful StreetDance 3D films) ticks all of the right boxes for keep young dance fans happy – certainly in the UK – and while familiar in terms of tone and structure its sheer exuberance wins through in the end.

The film is at its most engaging and amusing when adults get involved – especially Ashley Jensen (from Extras) who plans Garage manager Gina and Mark Heap (from Green Wing).

The film – released in 3D and 2D – is shot against the safe and secure backdrop of a friendly London where the sun always shines, makes good use of its young performers while also adding in a series of appealing adult performances from recognisable UK comedy actors. The ‘lets put a show on to make money to save the day’ storyline may well have been tackled before, but All Stars is blessed with an engaging young teenage ebullience that helps brush over the slower sections.

It will likely have a strong box office response in the UK, timed for a Spring release in early May, and could well fill a family-friendly gap in other territories whose youngsters go for innocent dance tales.

When their local youth venue The Garage is set to be torn down, Nathan (Theo Stevenson) and Jaden (Akai Osei-Mansfield, who performs simply as Akai) come up with a plan – recruit a crew of performers, stage a talent show and raise enough money to save the venue from demolition. At the same time, Ethan is desperate to impress the girl of his dreams with his dancing skills…the big hurdle being that he can’t dance.

But with Ethan banned from dancing by his parents and the other members of their crew proving to be less than co-ordinated it looks like they are long way from their goal of staging a contest. With the deadline for demolition approaching they have to learn to help each other and find some natural rhythm.

Both Theo Stevenson (who starred in Horrid Henry: The Movie) and Akai (who featured in the two StreetDance films and had a cameo in Horrid Henry) are charismatic young performers. They are supported well by the young cast, though the film is at its most engaging and amusing when adults get involved – especially Ashley Jensen (from Extras) who plans Garage manager Gina and Mark Heap (from Green Wing) who plays evil contractor Simon Tarrington, the man behind the plans to tear down the youth club.

The 3D is effective and suits the glossy look of the film, which makes good use of the Garage backdrop as well as London locations for an effectively staged series of dance routines. The jokes are often rather lame – but then this isn’t high comedy – and the direction pretty straightforward, until in one sequence there is a fantasy scene involving space invaders andexam papers, which come alive in Jaden’s mind, offering some imagination of the dance sequences.

Production company: Vertigo Films, Squareone Entertainment

International sales: Protagonist Pictures, www.protagonistpictures.com

Producers: Allan Niblo, James Richardson, Jim Spencer

Executive producers: Al Munteanu, Rupert Preston, Nigel Williams, Nick Love

Screenplay: Paul Gerstenberger

Cinematography: Ben Wheeler

Editor: Jono Griffith

Music: Simon Woodgate

Main cast: Theo Stevenson, Akai, Ashley Jensen, Ashley Walters, Hugh Dennis, Kimberley Walsh, John Barrowman, Mark Heap. Kevin Bishop, Javine Hylton, Kimberly Walsh, Fleur Houdijk, Dominic Herman-Day, Amelia Clarkson, Gamal Toseafa

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