Out of Step (film)

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For other uses, see Out of Step (disambiguation).
Out of Step
Directed by Ryan Little
Produced by Cary Debidge,
Kenneth Marler
Written by Michael Buster,
Willow Leigh Jones,
Nikki Anne Schmutz
Starring Alison Akin Clark,
Michael Buster,
Jeremy Elliot
Music by Merrill Jenson
Distributed by Thomson Productions, Inc.
Release dates
Running time
90 mins.
Language English

Out of Step is a 2002 film about an LDS young woman from Utah who moves to New York, New York to pursue an education in dance at New York University. There, she receives the affections of two young men and must eventually chose between them.


The film begins with a narration by Jenny Thomas (Alison Akin Clark) over scenes of a blonde girl dancing as she grows up. She explains that the two most important things in her life are her dancing and her faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Her mother (Tayva Patch) was always pushing her to do well while her father (Rick Macy) would stand at the finish line and urge her on. The person to whom she is closest is her father, and this comes up several times during the film. Her mother continues to push her to excel in dance, until Jenny decides to pursue her dance education at NYU, then her mother begins pulling her back.

Jenny was expecting to have a scholarship to pay for her education. Despite the help and lobbying from her dance instructor, Mr. Rigg (Peter Asle Holden), the scholarship selection committee picks another dancer. Jenny makes a goal to get the scholarship for the spring semester, so she is going to work hard during this semester. In the meantime, Jenny is wondering how she is going to pay for her education and apartment (apparently in the NYU dormatories). Her roommate, Desiree Porter (TL Forsberg), suggests that Jenny get a job at the nearby cafe where Desiree works.

While filling out an application, Jenny is sitting close enough to hear the conversation at a nearby table. The young man is trying the telephone number out of the young woman that he is talking to. Jenny notices the CTR ring on his finger, and after the other young woman writes down her phone number and leaves, Jenny says that he's the first Mormon that she's met in New York. He comes over to her table and she tells that she could tell by his ring. He introduces himself as Paul Taylor (Michael Buster) and invites her to attend the local ward. When he finds out that she's from Utah, he says that he's already dated "Utah". His goal, before he gets married, is to date a woman from all 50 states.

Paul is from California and is a film student at NYU. He thinks that filming Jenny in her quest for the dance scholarship would make an excellent film project for him. He says that it won't be twenty-four hours per day, but only at times and places that they both agree on. We see one of the first filming sessions where she is (supposed to be) practicing dance. For the purpose of the film, Paul asks again what her goal is. They begin talking, while filming, and find out that they have the same goals for life overall. Jenny never did get any dance practice during this filming session.

In one of Jenny's other classes at NYU, she sits next to another young woman in the class. Jenny explains that the book store was out of the book for this class so Jenny would like to occasionally borrow the other woman's book until the book store get more of the book in stock. The other woman offers to study together and they'd both do better in the class, and Jenny wouldn't have to buy a book. Jenny offers to pay for half of the book, but the other woman refuses. They then introduce themselves; the other woman is named Keisha (Nicolle White-Robledo).

Just then, the class instructor enters the room, introduces himself as Professor Schultz (David Morgan) and the class is Philosophy 101. He then invites anyone who may be in the wrong class to leave, at which point one man does. He explains that this class will not be studying the well-known philosophers but will instead be learning what the students think.

As a first example, the professor offers $50 for someone in the class to prove that God exists. He sees Jenny's reaction to the question and invites her, Keisha and two young men down to the front of the class to make an attempt; each of them will have one minute. Jenny is first and begins somewhat timidly. The professor challenges her statements, to which the class breaks out in laughter. He say, "Don't laugh. You won't think it's so funny when I have you down here defending your beliefs." Jenny goes on.

We also see a brief segment of one of the young men during his presentation.

Keisha is the last to have her turn. She makes a confident presentation of her case including "Universal Morals" and "The Prime Mover Theory". The professor congratulates her for her well-presented case, puts the $50 bill in his pocket and writes, "I like Keisha" on the blackboard. When one of the students objects to her not getting the $50 because, "she made the best argument", the professor says, "Keisha knows why." Keisha says that belief in God is a matter of faith because that is the way it was designed.

After class, Keisha says to Jenny in the hallway, "A lot of people are going to lose their faith in this class."

Later, while Jenny is in the cafe (it is unknown if she is working there at the time), Jenny's roommate sings on the stage. Right after that, a young man with an acoustic guitar sings a song that Jenny really likes. Jenny later asks Desiree about him. She says that his name is David Schrader (Jeremy Elliott) and that he is a drug addict.

While walking around New York, Jenny sees Paul go in to a drug treatment center. She follows him inside and then sneaks around until she finds him. Paul is playing his guitar and singing for a small group of people. After he finishes, the people in the group are talking to Paul. Jenny tries to sneak out, but gets lost. Just as she finds an outside door, Paul comes up behind her. She is flustered at first, but eventually explains that David is in Jenny's philosophy class, and she saw him come in so she followed him. He explains that a few years ago, his mother was being treated here, so he'd come in once a week and play for the people being treated. His mother was later released, and has since died, but he said that playing here has become a habit. Jenny ends up asking him out on a date, and they will go Dutch.

They go out to a swing club on their date. (In one of the deleted scenes on the DVD, we found out that David had arrived early but lost confidence so he spent a while hiding in the bathroom. Jenny thought for a while that she had been stood up.) After talking for a while, Jenny wants to dance, but David doesn't dance. Jenny grabs some guy standing at the edge of the dance floor and dances with him. She later returns to the table and talks to David some more.

Jenny goes over to Keisha's apartment to study. Keisha says that the bathroom is through the bedroom which is off-limits because it is messy, so Jenny had better not need the bathroom. While they are studying, Keisha asks where Jenny is from. When Jenny says she's from Utah, Keisha laughs and asks what it's like being so outnumbered. Keisha then says that she's studied up on Mormons and they are a cult. When Jenny seems shocked, Keisha stops and begins to apologize, "Oh, you have some friends ..." Jenny says that she is a Mormon, and berates Keisha because of what she had said about the philosophy class tearing down faith, "and here you are tearing down mine." Keisha then asks Jenny to leave.

Later in the film, Jenny comes back to apologize to Keisha for not having told her earlier. Keisha apologizes to Jenny for what she said and offers to read a book that Jenny picks about her church. There are various smaller scenes where it is apparent that Keisha and Jenny have become friends.

Jenny and David have several dates. Paul continues to film Jenny's classes and dance practices.

Before leaving for Christmas break, Paul tells Jenny that he's also going to be in Utah over the break. They arrange to meet at a ski resort, but they find out that Paul is a snowborder and Jenny is a skier. They spend the day together and talk for a while in the ski lodge. During a dinner at Jenny's house with her family, her parents get the opportunity to get to know Paul. During the dinner, Jenny gets a telephone call from David and talks to him for quite a while. After dinner, Jenny and Paul go to the freezer in the garage to put away the ice cream and some other things. Paul kissed Jenny, but Jenny rebuffed him, distancing their relationship.

Jenny's parents are concerned that she is dating David, someone not of their faith. They would both prefer that she reconsider Paul. While Jenny's mother told her what she thought Jenny should do, Jenny's father waited until Jenny asked him what he thought. On the DVD commentary, the directory points out that Jenny's mother's attitude toward David softens after he shows up at their house the next day, gives Jenny a necklace and four Utah Jazz tickets for them and Jenny's parents.

After returning to New York, the first scene is of Jenny sitting in a classroom. Professor Shultz comes in, introduces himself, says that this class is Philosophy 102 and invites anyone in the wrong class to leave. The same man that left the Philosophy 101 class gets up and leaves. Professor Shultz's first question to this class is to Jenny, "Would you ever marry someone outside of your faith?" To which she replies, "I don't know?"

Jenny continues to date David. But Mr. Rigg notices that she is missing classes and practices, and her dancing ability is suffering. He tells her that she needs to decide if she is serious or not about the scholarship. Jenny decides to work extra hard to make sure to get the scholarship. During one of the practices with her class, she severely sprains her ankle. She is told that she must stay off of her feet as much as possible, and she won't be able to return to dancing until after the scholarship committee has made its choice for the spring semester dance scholarship.

With her limited mobility, Jenny and David spend more time alone in Jenny's apartment. After one of these times, David and Jenny are in Jenny's apartment and David answers the door. It is Paul with flowers for Jenny. David is walking away just outside of the building when Paul catches up with him and punches him in the face. Paul then walks away.

We find out what nearly happened when Jenny goes to Keisha's apartment to talk to Keisha. Keisha, talking to Jenny through the door, is reluctant to let Jenny in, but as soon as she opens the door and sees Jenny, Keisha changes her mind. Keisha introducers her young son, Spencer (Lachoneus Hale), who is asleep in the living room. Keisha concern is how Jenny is going to reconcile herself with God. For Keisha, it took a pregnancy and her boyfriend leaving before she realized that she needed to do so. She knows that her faith and Jenny's agree on this issue, and Jenny knows the right thing to do.

David had started writing a song for Jenny which he gave to Jenny before the Christmas break. He finished the song and gave the rest to her. But Jenny had already decided that they needed to break up. David interrupts her saying that he knows that they have to break up too. They have both recognized that their life-goals are too far apart. Jenny apologizes for being weak, but David thanks her for stopping them before they went too far. Even though they have chemistry now, "We must say goodbye now, ... Or we'll only say goodbye later."

Vocal music is played over some images of the scholarship performances, Jenny contemplating and Jenny talking with her bishop.

Jenny expects that she will be leaving NYU the next semester because she won't get the scholarship. She tells Mr. Rigg that she will miss him, to which he responds, "That's very sweet Ms. Thomas, but I won't miss you in the least. Because you got the scholarship. Your video presentation was very brilliant." The video presentation that she had submitted in lieu of dancing showed the progress that she had made over the semester and had convinced the committee that she deserved the scholarship.

When she walks outside of the building, Paul is there waiting. He had put the film together and delivered it. He was very glad (as a friend) that it had got Jenny the scholarship. "And the good news is, in a few months you'll qualify for New York residency. I don't have 'New York' yet." They walk off with him filming her, "New York, how many children will we have?" To which she replies, "Including you?"

Religion in the film[edit]

Religion is brought up several times in this film, but doctrine is not discussed. This film does bring up issues of dating outside of ones faith, despite what faith that may be.


The commentary track on the DVD is the director, Ryan Little, and the writer/star, Michael Buster.

Selected cast[edit]

External links[edit]