By Australian Council on Children and the Media
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Boy watching movie
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  • Parental guidance recommended
  • Not recommended for children under 10
  • Parental guidance for children under 13
  • Suitable for children over 13
  • Contains disturbing or upsetting scenes
  • Contains coarse language
  • Contains violence and scary scenes
Genre Dance drama
Length 99 minutes
Release Date 02/08/2012


Step Up: Miami Heat is the fourth movie in the Step Up series. Miami Heat is about Emily Anderson (Kathryn McCormick), the daughter of a wealthy developer. Emily is trying to make it as a professional dancer, but her father isn’t supportive. He wants her to give up dancing to be a part of his growing company. Emily’s determination to dance puts her at odds with her father, and family tensions rise.

Emily gets involved with Sean (Ryan Guzman), the leader of a dance crew called ‘The Mob’. As a result, Emily is inspired to use her dance in a more meaningful way – to give a voice to those who don’t have one. But when Sean and Emily’s activities directly threaten Emily’s father and his current development, things come to a head.

Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Family conflict; social and political protest
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.

This movie has some violence. For example:

  • Sean punches his best friend when the friend talks about Emily in an insulting way.
  • In many scenes dancers act as if they are shooting guns, including pistols and machine guns. Their actions aren’t usually directed at people but are about making a political statement through dance.
  • During one protest the dancers are disguised in protective suits and have fake guns. The scene is dark, and there’s a lot of smoke. The dancers move aggressively – for example, they stomp in lines, move towards people and make threatening gestures. People run away and get upset. One man is punched throughout the scene.

Content that might disturb children

Under 8

In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years.

For example, Sean’s dance crew creates ‘flash mob’ stunts, where dancers suddenly appear together to do a performance. These stunts are surprising and unexpected, so they could frighten some children. In some cases the dancers are also breaking the law. Children might also be confused about what is real and what is performance. 

From 8-13

Children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. 

Over 13

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie. 

Sexual references

This movie has some sexual references, including sexualised dance moves that children might copy. For example:

  • Women straddle men in a provocative way.
  • Men and women dance seductively, with the men touching the women’s bodies.
  • Dancers gyrate and thrust their hips.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

This movie shows some use of substances. For example, adult characters drink socially. 

Nudity and sexual activity

This movie has some partial nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • Women wear tight and revealing clothing.
  • Emily and Sean kiss passionately. 

Product placement

The following products and brands are displayed or used in this movie: Marriott, Panasonic, Apple, Ellen, YouTube, Nike, Dell and Nokia. 

Coarse language

This movie has some coarse language. 

Ideas to discuss with your children

Step Up: Miami Heat is the fourth dance movie in the Step Up series. It’s about a dance flash mob that uses protest dance to give a voice to those who don’t have one. It’s likely to appeal to teenagers, particularly those who are dance fans. It might be disturbing for younger children who don’t understand that the protests are really performances and who are likely to be confused about why the dancers are acting in certain ways. You might also be concerned about younger children copying sexualised dance moves.

The main messages from this movie are to follow your dreams and stand up for what you believe in.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about how people can use dance and other performance acts in social and political protests and flash mobs. Here are some questions you could think about together:

  • What was the difference between the more positive dance protests and the more threatening protest that resulted in people being arrested?
  • Why was the more positive protest more effective?
  • How can you express strong opinions in a way that doesn’t hurt others? 

Other reviews you might be interested in

  • Last Reviewed 2012-08-14