For those who think it’s been too long since a movie like Breakin’ 2: Electric Boolago, or even Lambada: The Forbidden Dance, we now have “Honey,” the story of a spunky girl who dazzles hip-hop superstars with her dance moves but whose dream is helping the kids in her neighborhood.
Jessica Alba plays Honey, a sweet and sunny girl who teaches hip-hop to kids at the community center even though her mother tells her that she should be pursuing a career in ballet.
Honey is spotted by a director of music videos (David Moscow), and before you can say “That flava’s hot!” she is lead dancer and choreographer. She is just about to achieve her dream of putting her students into a video starring Ginuwine when it turns out that the video director is interested in more than her dance skills. She turns him down and he fires her. Even worse, he fires the kids and makes her tell them.
She doesn’t mind losing the job except that she does not know how she will get the money to buy that building she wants to turn into a dance studio so that she can give kids an alternative to thug life. How can she raise the money? Hey, let’s put on a show!
Alba has a lovely smile and Joy Fisher (Antwone Fisher) adds some verve to the sassy best friend role. Hip-hop fans will enjoy seeing favorite performers like Tweet, L’il Romeo, and Missy Elliot. And the movie is very short, less than 90 minutes. This is the good news. The bad news is that it is just dumb, way past cheesy-but-fun into the realm of “From Justin to Kelly”-level you-must-be-kidding. Its efforts to be hip make it as instantly out of date as if the characters used words like “groovy” and “out of sight.” When Honey is under pressure to improve her choreography for one video, she gives the dancers a (presumably very expensive) break and goes for a pensive walk, where she draws inspiration from the moves of kids playing basketball and jumping rope. I’m not kidding. It wouldn’t be so terrible that the plot, dialogue, and performances were so poor if the movie’s reason for being — the music and dance numbers — had more energy and style. Worst of all, the movie fails to take advantage of the talents of performers like the glorious Lonette McKee (Jungle Fever) and Mekhai Phifer, who pretty much stand around looking embarrassed.
Parents should know that the movie has strong language for a PG-13, with references to “hooker heels” and a Monica Lewinsky joke. Characters drink and sell drugs. There are some tense confrontations and threatened violence. One strength of the movie is its portayal of sexual values. Honey is very clear with her boss about boundaries and her romance with a local barber is sweet and understated.
Families who see this movie should talk about how Honey decided what was important to her and about the answer to the question “How come you turned out so well?” They might also want to talk about what people a few years from now will think about the styles of dance and slang in this movie.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Flashdance (mature material). They might also like to compare it to some of the classic Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movies about putting on a show.