out of Five
Running time: 86
Watchable if average dance drama, enlivened by a likeable central performance from rising star Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
What's it all about?
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Death Proof) stars as Lauryn, a smalltown girl who works as a book keeper in the family autoshop business, whilst dreaming of attending a prestigious dance school in Chicago. However, a year after the death of her father, Lauryn decides that the time has come to strike out on her own, much to the consternation of her brother (John Reardon), who fears the business will go bust without her book keeping skills.
Unfortunately, when Lauryn arrives in Chicago she blows the school audition, failing to impress the panel with her hoodie-clad dance routine. Luckily, she meets Dana (Tessa Thompson), who gets her a book keeping job in a modernised burlesque club. Will Lauryn take up burlesque and learn some new moves to impress the judges, as well as finding love and becoming the club's star dancer?
The film remains watchable throughout thanks to a likeable performance from rising star Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who even manages to make the book keeping scenes interesting. Her dance moves aren't bad either, although they're a far cry from the likes of Step Up.
Make It Happen is riddled with cliches, although that doesn't always matter in a dance movie. The problem is that in toning down the more risque elements of the burlesque club (the script was heavily rewritten), the story has lost some of its impact and it's never clear exactly what Lauryn learns from her experience, beyond incorporating a sudden tearing-off-a-jacket move into her audition routine.
In addition, a potentially interesting supporting character (Thompson's Dana) completely disappears after about 15 minutes (a pregnancy subplot was cut, which explains the film's unusually short running time), whilst Riley Smith makes an uninspiring love interest as Russ.
In short, this is a watchable dance movie and Winstead's performance just about compensates for the generally poor direction.