Synopsis: A steady look at the underbelly of the youth battle dance culture in Long Beach, California. Sean Lewis, a young, charismatic, successful businessman finds himself in the mix with a bunch of disheveled misfits Bad Boys, who have virtually no dance talent. Realizing his dilemma, Sean brings aboard a professional dance instructor to ease his responsibilities to these kids. Meanwhile, he finds himself falling for Sara, who runs the community center where the kids hangout and practice their moves. With Sean motivating them, The Bad Boys find the confidence to rise to the challenge and defeat their nemesis The Bang Squad, at the annual dance battle competition Battlefield America!
The film being about some inner city youth kids in a dance competition is a novel idea and has been used before but not like this. The movie opens with some type of dance battle showing, what appear to be, a few groups of 10 year olds who are competing once against another. In hindsight that part is kinda cool in that these kids are really talented with their dance moves and have great potential to pursue that line of work. These kids were poppin and locking as good if not better than some professionals which was amazing but anytime these kids stopped dancing I almost started crying.
I actually did drop a tear at one point in the film but then a recurring problem within the film ruined it. Things aren’t ever fully developed or fleshed out with the back stories. The film suffered horribly from transitioning scenes for the sake of transitioning scenes without fully exploring or devoting to any issues introduced. You rarely see any of the children’s parents, never get an explanation for why their parents let them traverse to dance clubs in the middle of the night, never see them in school and God forbid the film tip-toed into any of these areas of back story and development it ripped right out of it as if it were a scab in the way of its progression. The scene that had me tear up a bit was when one of the kids’ mom was a, (cliché #23), drug addict and winds up in the hospital. I won’t go on from there but I’ll say that things are fairly predictable and as quickly as you guess where it went is how quickly they moved on to another subject.
The film found ways to redeem itself at times. Anytime those kids starting breaking into a performance I started getting mesmerized and envious due to my lack of rhythm and seeming learning disorder to the simplest of steps. The moves and style these kids were portraying was, at times, downright amazing and awe-inspiring. I had no idea kids that age could learn that kinda choreography. The problem is if you think this movie is the movie to see how kids develop this kinda talent or overcome personal issues to gain that level of discipline then you’ll probably be pretty disappointed. This film doesn’t bother to show you these kids practicing or improving in their craft in any way. There’s a dance teacher that is supposedly teaching them moves but every time they film them in the same room together they’re taking a break or finishing up for the day so their improvement and maturation in their style and work is disjointed and painful. 1 day they rough around the edges and the next day they make it to the finals. Screw practice, all it took was for them to go through a few personal film clichés and they’re fine.
Marques Houston is a veteran as a R&B singer and longtime actor he comes off as the strongest performer in the film. Except the ‘You Got Served’ Alum doesn’t break out in a single dance move in the film save for ‘The Electric Slide’. I was kinda thinking throughout the film that he was going to be their ‘secret weapon’ and teach them things firsthand. Nope. Not at all. He’s strictly relegated to being ‘a suave businessman stuck with these rowdy children’.
My other problem with Houston in this film is that he didn’t give his character any kind of personality. It didn’t seem like he injected any of himself into the role nor did he make anything up. Instead he just tried to be as ‘James Bond’ suave as possible and go from there. It’s painful at times when he has to deliver a pep speech or a show some personal growth as a character when you can’t see the change reflected in the person and you’re only proof is in that they went through the motions.
The last problem I had with this film, (other than its almost painfully long runtime), with the oddities with the dance crews in this film. While watching this movie I deduced that this film was written with children in mind. These kids get into pubescent situations as they frequent late night dance clubs, get into fights with other crews over who’s toughest, and interest in dating at an incredibly young age. Sure, I could be out of touch with the situations that today’s youth find themselves involved in but the film kept making me feel that it was written with a high school dance crew in mind. In fact the film is an amalgamation of just about every “reluctant person finds themself in unexpected situation of coaching a team to championship” that’s ever been on film. You can spot the ideas and recognize the films they originated from with ease and could make for a fun drinking game if you ever find yourself watching this movie.
Overall the movie was not something I’d recommend many to watch. MAYBE kids around the age of the stars of the movie can find entertainment in this but I will pity any adult that has to attend and watch this film with them. In fact I recommend that you bring yourself a drink and make the most of it if you’re in one of the few theaters playing this film. But be sure to wake up during the dance scenes as those scenes are pretty fun to watch and make you feel that these kids can go places if they practice enough.
I give this film a 4 out of 10.
Great dance scenes
These kids can’t act
Cliché cliché cliché
Disjointed, underdeveloped story