Stepping Out Review

Image for Stepping Out

Mavis transforms a group of bumbling church tap dancers into a formiddable dance troup while each confronts their frustrations with womanhood.


Although they are a bunch of repressed housewives and social nonstarters, Mavis Turner is a great inspiration to all in her beginning tap dance class; in fact, with a little extra effort, she might even whip them into shape for a performance in the upcoming charity show.

Along the way to opening night, however, they’ll have to become better team players, better dancers, and as they confront weaknesses in each other and themselves, better people. In the process, Mavis herself might even make a few discoveries, and renew her long dormant love of the limelight, lost when she didn’t make the final cut on Broadway way back when.

Mavis is, of course, played by Liza Minelli, who, in trying to jumpstart this embarrassingly trite theme with her sometime fame and acknowledged song-and-dance gifts only lends the whole dull affair a gloomy biopic feel.

As Mavis reminisces alone about her highest moment in showbiz, shaking Bob Fosse’s hand, she breaks into a Big Number and we are forced to remember Minelli’s deserved Oscar-winning performance 20 years ago in Fosse’s great Cabaret, a peak she hasn’t neared since, and certainly not here.

Indeed, there are only about two moments in Stepping Out where Minelli really gets to strut her stuff, where she sure enough delivers those goods good as ever. Unfortunately, there’s the rest of the movie to sit through, most of which reduces to a blur of awkward set pieces where Mavis’ students bumble oh so slowly through endless rehearsals accompanied by Shelley Winters’s understandably rude pianist.

In between times there are some at-home scenes with each dance student seeming to be just as novice at working out the routine of daily life as they are with ball-shuffles, top hats, canes, and all that familiar one-two-cha-cha-cha stuff we would far better enjoy on a vintage video starring Fred, GInger, Gene, or any host of soft shoes, may they rest in peace.

It's getting embarrassing for Liza to be involved in pap like this.