It’s the Citizen Kane of break-dancing movies! And yet it still isn’t any damned good.
I’m sure that what these kids are doing is not called break dancing anymore. In fact, I think it’s called street dancing — though any time people flip upside down and spin on their heads and otherwise engage in antics that in another age would have been grounds for an exorcism, it looks like break dancing to me.
And I am reliably informed that the dancing in this sad excuse for a movie is good. I will accept that it’s certainly lively, and that director Christopher B. Stokes seems to find it so heavy that when the dancers hit the floor, the camera tends to shake with the kind of ferocity usually reserved for convincing us that the bridge of the Enterprise is under attack. For all I know, the dancing may indeed be good; however, my level of enthusiasm for watching kids in ill-fitting clothes doing back flips is minimal at best. And after a very short time, frankly, it bores me.
In any case, the break/street dancing is considerably better than what passes for drama in You Got Served. And it’s certainly better than the movie’s one attempt at something more resembling interpretive dance — where our heroes Elgin (Marques Houston, who seems to be in a group called IMX) and David (Omari Grandberry, who seems to be in a group called B2K, and is Houston’s half-brother) engage in a cross-cut hip-hop variant on “Singin’ in the Rain.” (Mercifully, they do not sing, “I’m hippin’ and hoppin’ in the rain,” though I was momentarily concerned they might.)
Now let’s face facts: This review is largely superfluous. A movie like this is critic-proof. Those determined to see it aren’t going to care what a bunch of old fuddy-duddies think about You Got Served, though goodness knows they ought to at least care that they’re being served up a leaden mass of cliches, predictable plot contrivances and — Steve Harvey to one side — absolutely abysmal acting.
From what I can determine, the dramatic portions of the movie are just dead spaces for the audience to talk on their cell phones. The plot is such that it makes the recent Jessica Alba vehicle, Honey, look pretty good. Here it is: Elgin and David — in between stints of delivering (presumably) drugs for shady underworld figure Emerald (Michael Taliferro, Ride or Die) — head up the hottest street dancers in South Central L.A. until they’re dethroned by white-boy street dancer Wade (Christopher Jones, O). Except that Wade cheats, you see, because he stole Elgin and David’s moves by recruiting one of their members for his team of dancers. (Why this is dragged into the proceedings, I don’t know, since the duplicitous dancer from Elgin and David’s group just vanishes from the film shortly thereafter.)
In the aftermath from this blow, David becomes romantically involved with Elgin’s sister, Liyah (Jennifer Freeman, TV’s My Wife and Kids), which doesn’t sit well with Elgin. (Anyone who wants to debate whether this is over-protectiveness, murky brother-sister stuff or Elgin’s jealousy over losing David to Liyah is welcome to explore these possibilities.)
Things get worse: Liyah turns David’s cell phone off (horror of horrors), and he misses a call that keeps him from being there to cover Elgin’s back during one of their courier missions. As a result, the unnamed whatever-it-is that Elgin is transporting gets jacked, Elgin gets beaten up (will he ever dance again?) and it all puts him in Dutch with Emerald. (So this is perhaps the movie’s great object lesson: Never turn off your cell phone.) There’s also a subplot involving a kid named Lil’ Saint (Malcolm David Kelly, Antwone Fisher), whom you just know is marked for slaughter the minute he walks into the movie.
Will David and Elgin patch things up? Will they win the MTV “Big Bounce” contest, defeat the vile Wade, collect $50,000 and get to appear in a Lil’ Kim music video? Let’s put it this way: The movie never once let me down by not meeting such expectations. Where it did let me down was in never having Wade spin on his head during the dance numbers. I really did so want to see what effect such actions would have on his spikey, moussed coiffure.
Maybe in the sequel …
– reviewed by Ken Hanke