I am a dance movie fan. No matter what the hell it is, who stars in it, or how cheesy I know it’s going to be, I will watch the fuck out of it. For crying out loud, I watched Honey on opening day and was privy to this:
I’m pretty sure that Jessica Alba celebrates these images on a daily basis like the rest of us. I am also a Step Up fan. I have seen every single one in the theater and I firmly believe that everyone should love the Step Up franchise because it gave us Channing Tatum and the “white boys doing urban dancing” renaissance that the world so desperately needed.
But I am here to give my two cents about Battle of the Year, the latest movie to come into our lives to celebrate dance…and to continue our disdain for all that is Chris Brown and his Dennis Rodman hair and tattoos. But surprisingly, this movie represents Brown’s character “Rooster” as the wisecracking, talented, misunderstood guy who — spoiler alert — gets injured and can’t make it to the big “Battle of the Year” in France. I ain’t going to lie. Brown has got some talent when it comes to dance moves…but I am still not a fan. In any case, the circumstances that his character comes under is just one of many dance movie tropes that are in BOTY, a movie that tells the tale of a underdog ragtag group of B-boys that go to the biggest B-boy competition (which is a real thing BTW) in hopes to bring the title back to the U.S. There’s the drunken, washed-up coach (Josh Holloway) who lost his family that redeems himself after realizing his family are the people who he is coaching. There’s the wide-eyed admirer of the B-boy culture that can’t dance, so he is therefore subject to being the assistant coach and heart of the movie (Josh Peck), and then, peppered throughout the dance crew are other cliches that are tweaked to give it a modern-day appeal: a gay b-boy and an intolerant teammate who learn to be friends at the end; a boy from the ghetto who’s sole future is invested in b-boying (which practically all of them), two rivals within the team that used to date the same girl, and a guy with a kid. Ugh. It’s kind of nauseating — but it comes with the territory in terms of dance movies.
It is seldom that dance movies are good and there hasn’t really been a B-boy movie that has proven itself to be worthy since Beat Street. Battle of the Year does not even come close…but it is better than some of the other malarky that has been coming out. I admit, I watch these dance flicks ironically, but I also watch them for the dance…because dancing is just damn entertaining. The plot, acting, and story all fall by the wayside because ultimately, all these movies, with the exception of Honey, have dancers trying to act and that’s just a disaster waiting to happen. I just watch these movies because of the dancing — and BOTY delivers the goods. It also has some blatant social commentary up in there:
1.) The gay b-boy: Wow. We haven’t seen that one before. This is desperate as much as it is progressive. Good job.
2.) The best choreographer is female: when Coach Sawyer asks for the best choreographer, Josh Peck brings him a girl. There are no B-girls present in BOTY. This was a smart, yet blatant way for them to cover their bases.
3.) Evil Koreans: The best B-boy crew that the U.S.A. has to face is Korea…and we all know Korea is the enemy.
4.) Stupid Americans: When the crew travels to France for the big competition, all the other foreign crews mad dog them…because we all know American are stupid.
Even though there was a fair amount of PG-13 cheese, the movie’s heart was in the right place. And in it’s own candy coated way, it also reminded everyone about the four elements of hip hop (can you name them all?) and how we are in desperate need to re-evaluate what is considered hip hop in 2013.
I love me a good dance movie. More than that, I love me a good B-boy movie. I fully endorse the hell out of this entertaining piece of work. The only thing missing from Battle of the Year was a good levitating broom scene. That would have made it an instant classic.