This would be mindless but enjoyably cheesy cinema fluff if it did not cross the line into the category of the unforgivable by using the murder of a child as a plot contrivance. That is a complete violation of the core premise of a movie like this one, which is that if you will offer 90 minutes of your life, it will provide something reasonably entertaining.
Other than that one jarringly misbegotten detour, the movie is exactly what you would expect from a Hollywood fantasy in which street dancers compete for a $50,000 prize and the chance to appear in a Lil Kim video.
Best friends Elgin (Marques Houston of IMX) and David (Omari Grandberry of B2K) are best friends in the neighborhood’s top street-dancing “crew.” They compete with other crews at a local warehouse presided over by the fatherly Mr. Rad (Steve Harvey). And they say things to each other in Hollywood’s idea of hip and happening street talk, like “You crazy but you know I always got yo back, bro” and “may the dopest crew win.” They have elaborate handshaking rituals which appear to take up much of the time they spend together. But trouble arrives in the form of a crew from another part of town that comes to Mr. Rad’s place and out-dances them.
And soon they are feuding because David likes Elgin’s sister Liyah (Jennifer Nicole Freeman). David was with Liyah when he was supposed to be with Elgin make a delivery for bad guy Emerald (former pro football player Michael “Bear” Taliferro). Because Elgin was alone, he was badly beaten by thugs who stole Emerald’s delivery package. Emerald expects Elgin to replace the money that was stolen. And there is this dance contest with a $50,000 prize, where all of these plot threads will come together.
For a movie like this, all we really need to know is first, whether the dance numbers are any good (yes, with lots of pnuematic shaking and fierce attitude). But the numbers are not always photographed well; the cuts and angles do not become a part of the choreography as they did so successfully in Chicago and Drumline. It is not even always clear who is in which crew. The second thing we need to know is whether the story gets in the way of the dancing (not too much). Fans of hip-hop groups B2K and IMX will enjoy seeing those performers as well as a guest appearance by Lil Kim. The one to watch out for, though, is Meagan Good, as Beautifull (“two l’s”), Liyah’s wisecracking best friend, who is as much fun as the best of the dance numbers.
Parents should know that the movie has some strong language. A brother tells his sister she is acting like a “ho” because she is out on a date. Characters deliver packages for a man who is apparently a drug dealer and there is always a strong sense of the pull of thug life. A child is shot and killed (off camera). The main characters are in general responsible, respectful, and devoted to their families. One female character is committed to education and plans to become a doctor.
Families who see this movie should talk about why the dance crews are so important to the characters and how they determine who is the best.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Saturday Night Fever and Breakin’.