WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

PLUGGED IN RATING

Watch This Review

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Movie Review

Raya is a bright girl. She has cracked through the hard shell of her crime-ridden community and is thriving in a private school—thanks in large part to her hard-working immigrant parents (who moved to the U.S. from the Caribbean). She dreams of graduating with honors and going on to med school. But those hopes are dashed when her drug-addicted older sister dies of an overdose after a long stay in rehab. The family is emotionally and financially drained, and Raya must come home and go back to her former high school.

She finds the old place and her old friends to be pretty much just as she left them—rough-edged and going nowhere. But Raya is determined that this turn of events will not lead to a dead end. So she starts studying for special scholarship exams that can get her back on track.

In the meantime, Mom and Dad are crumbling under the strain of loss and debt. And Raya's onetime friends—in particular, the hardboiled Michelle—see Raya as stuck up and are more than happy to beat their version of the truth back into her. To top things off, the scholarships fall through.

Panicked, Raya looks for another way out and learns of a $50,000 step dance competition that could pay her college tuition. Since only the male crews are winning the big money, she realizes that she must fight her way to becoming the sole female member of an impressive local crew (the Jane Street Junta) and help them win this competition.

Sparks fly between her and just about everyone around her, but this girl isn't just smart, she's got some serious dancing skills. And she will get where she wants to go. No matter whom she needs to step around to get there.

Advertisement

Positive Elements

Raya speaks of her plan to "study hard in private school and study harder in med school." The film points to other kids, too, who are working to gain something from their high school education. One 9th grader, for example, enjoys reading Tolstoy.

When considering good and bad choices, Raya wisely says, "One moment changes a million after it." After accidentally embarrassing Michelle in math class, Raya moves to apologize.

[Spoiler Warning] To avoid suspension from school (and elimination from potential scholarship consideration), Raya agrees to tutor the mean-spirited Michelle. And the two eventually reconcile. Raya's parents have obviously sacrificed a great deal to make ends meet and give Raya (and their older daughter Pam) every opportunity for success in life. After Pam's death, emotional strain causes Mom and Dad to separate. But in the end, they find strength in one another and reunite.

Raya's mom expresses concern over the potentially negative influences of the stepping crowd, and she confronts Raya when her daughter lies to her. Raya selflessly gives up something of great value to her to help her friends.

Spiritual Content

When Raya tells her mother that she thinks she'll receive her scholarship, Mom breaks down in tears, saying, "Thank you, Jesus." A pawn shop owner jokes, "The Lord giveth and the junkie pawneth it away."

Sexual Content

Raya walks in on a girl in a skimpy dress who's straddling a shirtless guy on his bed. It's implied that they were having sex.

Low-cut, form-fitting tops are the norm for the majority of young females. On a number of occasions, Michelle and Raya wear cleavage-baring, brief tank tops or tube tops. One all-girl dance team is dressed in midriff-baring gold lamé tops and skintight jeans. (The camera makes a point of ogling their backsides.) Another team wears tight tops and hot pants. One girl wears a T-shirt emblazoned with a mildly suggestive (racially oriented) slogan.

Dance moves include a variety of provocative (male and female) sexual moves, including hip-thrusting, bottom-shaking and crotch-cupping. Raya and the leader of the JSJ crew, Bishop, kiss after a big win.

Violent Content

A step-off between Raya and Michelle degenerates into a fistfight (with blows to bodies and faces). Bishop throws his brother to the ground at the end of an argument.

Raya wrestles with a girl to retrieve a locket from her that used to be her grandmother's. (She fails.) Later, Michelle presents the locket to Raya with a clump of the girl's hair caught in its chain. During one dance routine, the crew uses a car as a platform, blowing out the vehicle's windows on the final stomp.

Crude or Profane Language

One spoken and one mouthed f-word make appearances along with almost two-dozen s-words. A handful each of the words "d--n," "a--" and "b--ch" are also in evidence. God's name is misused a few times. Someone spits out a racial slur (the n-word).

Drug and Alcohol Content

After Pam dies, we see Raya's father passed out drunk on the couch with a bottle of Jack Daniel's next to him on the coffee table. Raya seeks out Michelle in an old trashed-out building and walks by a group of guys who appear to be smoking marijuana. She tells Michelle, "You start making people like this a habit, and then you're the habit."

Several "tough" kids, including Michelle, are seen smoking cigarettes. Lots of young people cram into a hotel room for a party—most are drinking and smoking.

Other Negative Elements

Raya lies to her mother about the scholarship tests and later lies about going to a college consortium, when, in fact, she's traveling to a dance contest.

Conclusion

For those unfamiliar with step dancing, think of it as a third generation offspring of tap dance—if gymnastics, military marching, synchronized choreography and hip-hop suggestiveness were all a part of the family tree. It's a very entertaining percussive dance that involves the whole body and includes hand claps and spoken words as a kind of rhythmic accompaniment.

It's also an activity popular enough to have kept last year's Stomp the Yard in the Top 10 at the box office for six weeks. How She Move isn't a sequel, but it's certainly what's next.

Beyond featuring gifted dancers and slick choreography, though, a step dance movie must have a story. And that part of How She Move doesn't quite sparkle the way some of the stepping does. It amounts to a sports flick tale that we've seen a hundred times about an underdog team that must fight its way to an impossible win.

We're supposed to closely identify with Raya's struggle between ambition and loyalty. But, while her self-betterment goals are praiseworthy, she comes off as a self-serving soul. So when she makes her rather contrived turn at the end, we don't really connect with her or the lesson. Even "good guy" Bishop is annoyingly egocentric. In fact, the whole crew's a pretty self-centered, foul-mouthed lot until it's time to wrap the flick up with a happy ending.

The two exceptions are Raya's parents. Their feelings of pain and confusion over the loss of their daughter are briefly examined, but palpable. And their ultimate reconciliation scene is surprisingly resonant. It's too bad the film wasn't about them—with a few kids and a little step dancing on the side instead of in the center.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!