Archive for dance

Honey

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on August 25, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Honey Daniels holds down jobs as a bartender, a record store clerk and a dance teacher at a community center run by her mother in New York. Honey’s dream is to make it as a backup dancer in music videos.

When Honey visits a club where her rival Katrina works, the two are recorded as they try to out dance each other. When Honey and friend Gina leave the club, they encounter brothers Benny and Raymond street dancing with other kids from the neighborhood. Honey invites them to attend her classes at the community center, where they work together to inspire new dance moves. The video from the club catches the attention of music director Michael Ellis, who gives Honey a job as a backup dancer in Jadakiss’ new video. Unimpressed with his current choreographer, Michael decides to let Honey choreograph the video. Before long, Honey is asked to choreograph for Tweet, Sheek Louch, and Shawn Desman.

Honey’s new choreography career makes it tougher for her mother to maintain the dilapidated community center. Wanting to help, Honey finds an old store for sale and decides to turn it into a dance studio for the local kids. Honey’s parents want her to teach ballet classes and refuse to help with the new dance studio, but Honey puts down a deposit. Meanwhile, she convinces Michael to let her use the kids she teaches at the center as backup dancers in Ginuwine’s new video.

Honey makes plans to take Gina to Atlantic City for her birthday, but Michael convinces her to make an appearance at a black and white party instead, where he subsequently makes a drunken pass at her. She refuses his advances and leaves the party. Michael later fires Honey and the kids from Ginuwine’s new video, replacing her with Katrina and blackballing Honey from the business.

The kid dancers are heart broken about this turn of events. Benny starts working for street corner drug dealers and soon lands in juvy. When Honey visits him there, Benny refuses her help and insults her. As she leaves, Honey asks him how often his drug friends visit and he is visibly saddened by her question.

Depressed, Honey is relieved when Gina renews their friendship and helps Honey realize she can still make her dreams come true. Honey has been struggling to make the full down payment on the studio, and eventually comes up with the idea to hold a dance benefit at an abandoned church. Benny, released from juvy, brings his dance friends to help prep for the benefit.

Michael has been hired to manage a new video for Missy Elliott. He pushes Katrina as the choreographer, having her do a short routine for Missy. Missy is unimpressed and makes it clear that she will postpone the filming of her video until Michael fires Katrina and brings in Honey, whose work she has seen. Michael begs Honey to work for him and even offers to buy her the studio but she refuses, saying she will pay for the studio on her own.

Gina talks to the bank manager, who calls some local arts community donors to attend the benefit. The benefit is a full house, including Honey’s parents, Benny’s disapproving mother and Honey’s boyfriend Chaz. The audience is wildly enthusiastic about the performances. Benny’s mother sees the future he has as a choreographer, while Honey’s parents change their mind about forcing her to be a ballet teacher. Tweet is in the audience and joins Honey on stage to celebrate her victory. Missy Elliott arrives as the benefit finishes, wanting to finally meet Honey in person. As the credits roll, we watch a music video for Blaque, which has been choreographed by Honey on Missy Elliott’s recommendation.

REVIEW:

Sometimes you just want a little Honey added to your tea, right? Ok, that was a bad excuse for a pun, but it got the title in, so that’s all that matters. Back in the day, this was one of my guilty pleasure films. Fast forward about 10 years and let’s see how it holds up, shall we?

What is this about?

Honey, a tough, sexy dancer from the inner city, becomes a successful music video choreographer, but her career is threatened when her mentor blackmails her into the following choice: either sleep with him … or be blackballed.

What did I like?

Shut up and dance. There are quite a few dance movies out there. Some are good, but most are unwatchable. You have to be the judge on this one, but the choreography is on point and really reflects what was going on at the time in the world of hip hop/r & b. Throw in some of the hot acts of the time and some sweaty, sexy dancers and  the viewer is captivated, whether they care about dancing or not. Smart move on the part of the director and overall good dancing from all involved.

Kids will be kids. Can you remember the last movie you saw that didn’t have a cute kid in it (not counting animation or porn)? I think for me it was Little Caesar. At any rate, these days kids make or break films, as it would seem. The pair of kids that Honey interacts with are no different. The one played by Lil Romeo (I guess he’s changed his name to just Romeo and, now that he’s retired, is going by his real name) even has his own storyline involving a gang. The younger of the two is the one to make the audience go “awww”, and it works.

A taste of Honey. These days, Jessica Alba just doesn’t do it for me. I don’t really know why because she doesn’t look much different than she did when she filmed this picture. That said, she was at her peak in this flick. Not only was he body toned to near perfection, but her acting chops didn’t seem as lifeless as in other films. What happened to her after this flick, I wonder? Maybe she just got the best direction of her career in a film she seems to be happier to forget. At any rate, she is a bright star shining in the sea of mediocrity that is the rest of this cast. Definitely, this is her film, and she owns it!

What didn’t I like?

Big. Remember the kid that was the young version of Tom Hanks in Big? Well, he resurfaced to play the sleazy antagonist of the film. Where should I begin with this guy? Perhaps I should bring up that he seems like he’s a prototype for Will Schuster from Glee with the hair. Second, his plan reminds me of Rob Lowe’s character from Wayne’s World but with a slight alteration. So, what I’m saying is that this guy just isn’t that great of a character, even for this film. I guess that is why they dug out some no-name guy to play him.

Cliche’ Stop me if you heard this before. Main character works their butt off for a better life and, through some twist of fate, manages to make it to the big time. After living with fame for a bit, they decide to give back to the community, but before that can happen, they run afoul of the person that brought them their fame, in turn making a villain who wants to destroy the rec center (or reasonable facsimile). Before this can happen, the entire neighborhood and some famous friends come together at the last minute to save it. That pretty much sums up this and about a dozen other similar flicks with the same cliché plot that we have all grown tired of.

What could have been. I always wondered why Jessica Alba was chosen as the role of an inner city dancer. Nothing against her, I think she was a dancer before she became an actress, now that I think about it, but she is a lone Latina in an African American neighborhood, plus her parents seem to be upper middle class, at least. Well, it turns out that this role was meant for Aaliyah, and the only reason we didn’t see her in it is because she died before filming started. Such a shame. I feel this would have been a different film with her in the role. Whether that is good or bad, I can’t tell you.

Final verdict on Honey? This is a nice little dance movie that showcases much of the urban music of the early 2000s, as well as some hot dancers and dance moves. Jessica Alba owns the screen when she is on it and the supporting cast tries to keep up, but they aren’t really given enough to make any sort of impact. The cliché plot just isn’t redeemable and seeing Alba show off some serious skin and show off how genuinely cute as a button she is/was can only go so far. Do I recommend this? Yes, but only as a weekend afternoon flick or as part of a dance film marathon.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Flashdance

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on January 17, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Blue-collar worker, eighteen year-old Alexandra (Alex) Owens (played by Jennifer Beals) is a dancer in a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, tavern at night and a welder at a steel mill during the day. She lives by herself in a converted warehouse with her pet dog Grunt. Her aspiration is to become accepted by a prestigious dance school, the (fictional) Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory. During one of her performances at Mawby’s, the bar where she works, she attracts the attention of Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri) who is the boss of the steel mill, and he learns that Alex is one of his employees.

Alex’s best friends also work at Mawby’s, and they have their own aspirations of fame. Jeanie Szabo (Sunny Johnson) is a waitress who aspires to be a professional ice skater, and Jeanie’s boyfriend Richie Blazik (Kyle T. Heffner) is a cook who wants to be a professional stand-up comedian. Also prominent in the film is Johnny C. (Lee Ving), who runs the local strip club, the Zanzibar, and is accompanied invariably by his strong but unintelligent bodyguard Cecil (Malcolm Danare). Johnny C. visits Mawby’s to see the dancers, and tries to recruit both Alex and Jeanie to work at the Zanzibar.

Alex goes to the Conservatory to ask for an application form for an audition, but walks out when she realizes that she lacks any formal dance training, and will have to leave that section of the form blank. Alex’s dance teacher and mentor is a retired ballet dancer named Hanna Long (Lilia Skala), who encourages Alex to pursue her dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. After Jeanie falls over twice at an audition for an ice show, she loses confidence in herself and becomes a dancer at the Zanzibar, where she performs in the nude, and Alex goes to the strip club to rescue Jeanie.

Alex and Nick become lovers, but she later learns that he has an ex-wife called Katie (Belinda Bauer), and they have a hostile meeting in a local restaurant. Nick uses his contacts at the Conservatory to secure an audition for Alex, and just before the audition she goes to Hanna’s house and learns that Hanna died the previous night.

At the audition, Alex falls over at the start of her routine, but starts again and completes the routine successfully. In the final scene, Alex runs out of the Conservatory building with a smile on her face and is hugged by Nick, who gives her a bunch of red roses. The ending of the film does not say directly whether Alex wins a place at the Conservatory as a result of her audition.

REVIEW:

Flashdance has the distinction of being on of the most iconic films to not be well received by critics. Usually this would lead to a cult following, but the formula hasn’t seemed to work this time around.

Obviously, with dance being part of the title, then you would expect plenty of dance in the film, sort of like in Save the Last Dance. Unfortunately, aside from a handful of scenes here and there, the dance is minimal, where the drama is heavy. Well, I shouldn’t particularly say drama, as much as I should say random events in the lives of a few people. Yes, I expected more dancing, but I didn’t expect to see a full on dance recital or audition, but they could have done more than what they showed, if you ask me.

The music, aside from a couple of scenes, is the best part of the film. Those of us that grew up in the 80s, or are just huge fans of music from that era will love the soundtrack. I was reading somewhere that this film has been referred to as a series of music videos for  the songs featured. While I was watching, that thought didn’t cross my mind, but now that I think about it, they do have a point. Still, without the music, this is a very dull flick.

The acting is thins thing is not worth mentioning, except for Jennifer Beals. She embraces the fact that she is the star of the film. On top of that she has a couple of iconic scenes. The first of which is at the beginning. I’m sure you are all familiar with the shots of her dancing on stage and then getting drenched in water. The second is the signature Flashdance moment where she appears to be jogging in place to Michael Sembello’s “Maniac”. There is also a possible third iconic scene, depending on how you look at it, where she returns from her date with her boss and without losing her shirt or taking the time to take a breath takes off her bra (I think).

When push comes to shove, the things that Flashdance is remembered for are the things that I’m sure they didn’t really intend to be memorable. Not that they aren’t worthy of note, but you just know that the filmmakers wanted the real film to be etched in people’s brains some 20-30 yrs after its release, rather that a couple of scenes and the music.

What is my final verdict on this picture. *SIGH* Well, let’s see we have a pretty girl dancing around with plenty of gratuitous butt shots. There is awesome 80s music, but on the other side of things the film stops shirt of de-emphasizing the dance part of the plot. I guess for me, if you have dance in the title, then there better be plenty of dance in the film. I’m weird like that. There isn’t really anything overly spectacular about this film. I can’t even say that you should see it before you die, but I can say it doesn’t suck. It just doesn’t do anything flashy or memorable.

3 out of 5 stars

Dance Flick

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Suburban girl Megan (Shoshana Bush) gets into a series of misadventures when she moves to the inner-city and pursues dance. A nerdy street boy named Thomas (Damon Wayans, Jr.) is passionate about street dancing, but he is stuck working for a hungry obese gang lord (David Alan Grier) who only loves food. Megan later befriends Thomas’ ghetto sister Charity (Essence Atkins) who has a baby but also poor parenting skills. Charity has her own issues dealing with her dimwitted “baby daddy” (Shawn Wayans) who also is a bad parent. Once Megan and Thomas spend more time together, they become dance partners and begin to fall in love and start dating.

REVIEW:

The Wayans Bros. have been churning out these parodies for years now.  I’ll admit that I’m getting a little tired of them, honestly. Seriously, they stopped being funny after Scary Movie 2 and Epic Movie was an epic fail. Somehow, though, they managed to find their niche again with Dance Flick.

While there are numerous films parodies here, the plot focuses on spoofing Save the Last Dance mainly.

The gags throughout can get a bit old after a while, but that is part of the charm of these films. Each time you watch it those jokes that have gotten old, are the best ones the second time around.

Acting wise, no one is going to win any awards here, unless its for best Wayans or former WB star, because about 90% of the cast is either a member of the WAyans family or starred on a show that was on the now defunct WB.

Let’s face it, if you’re even going to take the time to watch Dance Flick, then chances are that you are more than familiar with the type of flick it is, a senseless parody with tons of pop culture references and bad jokes. However, if you’re one of those few that doesn’t fall into that category and this is your first trek into a film by the Wayans’, then you’re either going to love it or hate it. Its best that you watch and find out for yourself.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars