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'Step Up 2: The Streets'

The dance moves are terrific, the plot and characters merely generic in Step Up 2, the latest in a string (Stomp the Yard, Step Up) of breakdance-inspired dance-musicals.

An attractive Baltimore street dancer (Briana Evigan) will be sent to live with Texas relatives unless she cleans up her act and enrolls in the Maryland School for the Arts. Naturally, she soon has the school's sheltered ballerinas dancing in street competitions.

Because the movie more or less begins with the competitions — and simply going back to them would qualify as a less-than-thrilling finale — the director opts for what I'm going to to call the "just add water" ploy, staging the competition outdoors in a thunderstorm. Splashy, yes, but where's Gene Kelly when you need him?

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.