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."


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!"


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.


    No Rating Available

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

Tyler Gage, a high school senior, is a foster kid growing up in a rough Baltimore neighborhood. He spends all his time hanging out with his friend Mac and Mac's little brother, Skinny, going to parties, playing hoops and ... stealing cars for a local chop shop. When the trio break into a neighborhood school and bust the place up a bit while roughhousing, Tyler gets caught and sentenced to do community service at the scene of the crime, the Maryland School for the Arts.

Working as a janitor, Tyler is intrigued by all the musicians, artists and dancers. He's quickly taken with Nora, the school's most talented dancer, while watching her train for her Senior Showcase, an audition for professional dance troupes. When Nora's dance partner gets injured, Tyler volunteers to help her. Having witnessed his raw talent, she takes him on and the two begin to fall for each other as they train for the big show.

Soon, Tyler realizes that dancing might be a way for him break out of life on the streets, but he's torn between his loyalty to Mac and Skinny, and his growing affection for Nora.

Positive Elements

The central messages of Step Up are quite positive. Tyler grows to learn that accomplishing anything worthwhile takes lots of hard work and commitment. He's forced to break his pattern of quitting when things get tough. It takes a tragic turn of events, but eventually even the hardest characters own the fact that a life of partying, stealing cars and wasting time is a dead end ("You really believe that this is the best we can be?" Mac asks Tyler. "I wanna be better").

When a girl convinces herself that she needs to accept her boyfriend's wandering eye (and lips), a fellow student hits her with solid criticism: "If you want to be with somebody who doesn't appreciate what he has, that's 100 percent your business. I just thought you'd be smart enough to know you deserve better."

Adult female characters are strong and positive. The school's director is a tough-but-fair leader who wants her students (and even the delinquent Tyler) to succeed. Mac and Skinny are being raised by an involved single mom who works nights to support her boys. Nora's mom, a recent widow unsure her daughter should be spending so much time dancing, eventually supports and encourages Nora in a big way when she needs it most. Tyler also fills the role of big brother to his foster siblings with kindness and generosity.

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Nora and other dancers wear tight and/or revealing outfits (bare midriffs, exposed cleavage). Teen girls talk about guys being hot or not. Several couples are seen kissing (sometimes passionately) at parties. Speaking of performing music, one character unintentionally elicits giggles when he says he prefers "playing with himself." Someone jokes that TV talk show host Ellen DeGeneres "gets more chicks" than one male character. A couple of other sly gay jabs are also exchanged in a mild, teasing manner.

While some of the hip-hop dancing gets sensual, it's portrayal here is actually quite tame by the standards of today's music videos or even films such as Dirty Dancing and Save the Last Dance.

Violent Content

Tyler gets into a few fistfights, including one at a party in which a gun is drawn by a known thug. A character is shot to death offscreen. The camera arrives to find the body, with a little obvious blood.

Crude or Profane Language

The s-word is heard as many as 10 times, some of which come in the form of lyrics on the soundtrack. A handful of other profanities include "b--ch," "d--n" and "h---."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Tyler's foster dad is seen only sitting on the couch drinking beer; Tyler comments that the man gets drunk regularly. At parties in the neighborhood, cash is exchanged implying, possibly, drugs being dealt.

Other Negative Elements

Tyler, Mac and Skinny steal cars for fun and, presumably, profit. That activity is lumped in with others as part of their admittedly futile life on the streets—and it leads to the aforementioned killing—but no legal consequence is ever paid.


A quick look at the filmmaking team behind Step Up reveals a lot about the movie before the opening scene ever rolls. Take the writer of the Julia Styles ballet-meets-the-street teen dance movie Save the Last Dance and a writer for the teen TV soap The O.C. Add a first-time director who has built her career as a choreographer and cast new teen heartthrob Channing Tatum (seen recently in She's the Man). The result is a film that is all but guaranteed to win over a very particular demographic: dance-loving tween and teen girls.

For everyone else, Step Up has a bit of trouble doing so. The camera often seems to have trouble focusing on the action; the lighting occasionally shifts unexpectedly in the same scene; and the story could not be more worn—we never for a moment doubt how things will turn out. Even a third act tragedy arrives right on cue to move things along to the big finish.

It's not that the film is unwatchable. It features a few nice character moments, particularly those between Tyler and his foster siblings. The young cast is likable, and the supporting players are more interesting than the leads. In the end, it's all about the dancing anyway, right? So is the dancing any good? I have no idea, but there's lots of it.

Which reminds me of one final thought about that target audience. In creating a film which is aimed deep into the hearts of young girls, Step Up's creators should be commended for steering their characters clear of any apparent sexual involvement, and for making an effort to pirouette away from MTV-style hyper-sexual grinding on the dance floor. A bit of language (and even less violence) does unnecessarily tromp on your toes, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range



Channing Tatum as Tyler Gage; Jenna Dewan as Nora Clark; Damaine Radcliff as Mac Carter; De'Shawn Washington as Skinny Carter


Anne Fletcher ( )


Touchstone Pictures



Record Label



In Theaters

On Video

Year Published



Christopher Lyon

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!