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You Got Served

(2004) * 1/2 Pg-13
100 min. Screen Gems. Director: Christopher B. Stokes. Cast: Marques Houston, Omari Grandberry, Jarell Houston, DeMario Thornton, Dreux Frederic.

You got served (yoo got sûrvd) Slang.

1. You have been presented with a defeat at the hands of others. 2. You have been made to watch a bad, feature-length music video.

In olden days (the 1980s), breakdancing movies were bad, but they were epically bad, which, in turn, made them camp classics. Who wants a breakdancing movie that's merely bad, that's tasteful in comparison to Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. No one, cuz. You're trippin'. Nevertheless, it's time for You Got Served, a breakin' movie for the new milennium.

You Got Served is so utterly predictable that the plot hardly seems worth mentioning, and yet (sigh) it's my job. David (Omari Grandberry) and Elgin (Marques Houston) are breakdancing homies who cease to be tight after a series of contrivances. First, their breakin' crew gets served by another crew fronted by a couple of white guys (snap!). Then, David starts making eyes with Lilyah (Jennifer Freeman), Elgin's sister. While Lilyah distracts David, Elgin gets worked by a gang of toughs who steal some goods which belong to an apparent crime boss. Then this overweight, stage-whispery kingpin for whom the duo make deliveries insists rather vehemently that he's got to get paid. But wait, the Big Bounce competition is coming up, with a $50,000 grand prize and a chance to be in a Li'l Kim video (brought to you by This Happens in Every Dance Movie Productions, Ltd.).

Now, the good news: the moves are hot. The breakdancing--with its flips, jumps, head-spinning, and other acrobatic stunts--rocks the house. The phallocentrically raucous popping and flowing comes under the purview of Steve Harvey's Mr. Rad, who's always good for some muttering ad libs and heartfelt pep talks at the street-level competitions (think 8 Mile's rap battles, but mimed). "Do not walk out of this place and second-guess your talent," Mr. Rad tells David and Elgin--after the white boys rip off their moves.

But director Stokes (actually a producer/manager/video director for much of the talent in the movie) does his young charges no favors with his infuriating quick-cutting and circling, swirling, swooping camera. I could understand cutting this much if you're trying to make, say, Leslie Nielsen look like a breakdancer, but why give the real deal the Benihana treatment when you have 100 minutes of movie to fill? You Got Served doesn't exactly skimp on the dancing, but it doesn't showcase it properly, either.

The rest is strictly pedestrian, outfitted with jerseys, logoed caps and sweatshirts, and prominent product placements. B-ball scenes offer some competitive variety, and it's all sexed up with skintight outfits for Freeman and stripped-to-the-waist workouts for Grandberry and Houston. The acting is amateur all around (much of the cast comes from the now-defunct hip-hop outfit B2K; Houston hails from IMx), and the vocal preview audience seemed to laugh at the film almost as often as with it. A gratuitous death and bizarre plot blips (how do these crews afford the commercial real estate for their warehouse spaces? how do our heroes both tank the first round and end up in finals?) complete the effect.

Two moments do hint at the so-bad-its-good movie You Got Served could have been: first, a funny, Flashdance-style montage showing the leading duo practicing half-dressed in the rain, and second, the cameo appearance by choreographer Wade Robson. He introduces himself, "I've choreographed videos for Britney Spears, N'Sync, Pink..." and, in all seriousness, Stokes lays onto the soundtrack a husky voice from the crowd yelling, "He tight!" Uh, really?

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