Serving a Turkey
After languishing in pre-production limbo for years, a fifth Batman movie should start shooting fairly soon, the next Superman film is in the works, and a script for Indiana Jones 4 was recently turned in. But what I want to know is how unnecessary junk like You Got Served managed to make it to the multiplexes before any of these flicks.
Some say the 1980s are coming back, and it certainly looks that way with the cinema. You Got Served updates the 1984 break-dancing epic Breakin' for a whole new decade of viewers. While the moves have changed, the ridiculous story and one-dimensional characters haven't, resulting in a laughable drama that takes itself way too seriously.
Long-time buddies David (Omari Grandberry) and Elgin (Marques Houston) are the leaders of one of the best street-dancing crews in Los Angeles. Night after night, the team dominates the warehouse dance floor of Mr. Rad (Steve Harvey), blowing the competition away with their fast and furious moves-- oh, excuse me for a second.
(Hello. This is an automated response. Adam is pre-occupied with laughing uncontrollably while trying to give You Got Served a serious summary. Please hold.)
Okay, I'm back. Now where was I? Right, the dancing crew. Anyhow, David and Elgin's group maintains a pretty good reputation, until some cocky newcomers from Orange County decide to challenge them to a battle. All seems well, until one of the crew betrays them, gives all their moves to the OC dancers, and throws everyone into a deep funk. David and Elgin are especially hurt, as tensions develop between them over David dating Elgin's sister (Jennifer Freeman), their reluctant commitment to a local gangster (Michael "Bear" Taliferro), and whether or not they can set aside their rivalry long enough to win back their respect in the biggest dance competition of the year.
I'm sure there's an interesting film to be made about the street-dancing culture as well as plenty of inspiration to be found in the story of a group of friends who gain respect by busting a move and putting all their energy into what they love doing the most. But that movie is not You Got Served. That movie, for the moment, exists only in my head. It's a documentary about a real-life street-dancing team -- a movie that will probably be ignored by filmmakers.
You Got Served emerges as a phony, mindless shell posing as a movie, underneath the faux exterior of an exploitation machine not seen in action since somebody got the bright idea to make not one but TWO movies based on the Lambada. The filmmakers here care nothing about the soul of the idea. Their emphasis centers on how it looks, and they present a fabricated story connecting the dance sequences and holding the thin plot together with one dunderheaded subplot after another.
Writer/director Chris Stokes hardly makes an effort to cover up how hilariously cliched the film is from the very start, filling every frame of celluloid with eye-rolling dialogue and a story where all of the characters do at least a couple of things to render them unlikable. One wonders why the crew challenging David and Elgin's have such animosity toward them, why Elgin is so creepily over-protective of his sister, how the characters recover from a friend's death so quickly in time for the big dance-off, and why no one has the courtesy to say "Good dance" at the end of a battle.
It's hard to feel sympathetic toward the film's protagonists when they're just as mean about rubbing in their victory as the other guys, not to mention trying to differentiate who's who amid the five-hundred subplots that are introduced and hardly touched-upon. And, playing the many, half-developed characters are a troupe of actors who really should've given more thought about signing onto You've Got Served.
Houston and Grandberry, members of different singing groups prior to acting, show potential, but they can't save their roles from becoming a pair of walking, talking cliches. Christopher Jones is hilariously awful as the ringleader of the OC crew; Freeman is boring and monotone with her character; and Steve Harvey, fresh from a funny turn in The Fighting Temptations, finds his comic relief going to waste here.
Were it not for the excellent dance moves and how good the film looks (at only $8 million to make, the flick looks a lot more professional than most major productions), You Got Served would most certainly earn even a lower rating from yours truly.
MY RATING: * ½ (out of ****)
(Released by Screen Gems and rated "PG-13" for thematic elements and sexual references.)
Review also posted at www.ajhakari.com.