Right, yes, you knew this would be terrible.
Because what could go wrong with a cheapo, fictional, Mighty Ducks-style take on a real thing, the annual Battle of the Year competition (where hip hop dance crews from around the globe break for supremacy)? I mean, you know, besides everything? Who'll notice if they get it yawningly wrong? Who'll care if it has all the authentic, gritty power of an episode of Kids Incorporated? Nobody, except actual dancers in actual crews who'll illegally download and hate-watch it.
Therefore, it's important to discuss its idiotic pleasures on their own terms, because those are the fumes that power this little engine that could not. A checklist:
1. When Josh Peck (Drake and Josh) says, "This Sony tablet is the future."
2. When Josh Peck talks about how Jews can't dance: "I was stripped of my swag at circumcision."
3. When Josh Peck says, "I'm Jewish but my religion is hip hop."
4. When Laz Alonso, as the hip hop lifestyle accessories CEO, confesses aloud that his sole reason for training an American crew for dance battle is to shore up his bottom line. Then his character bends time and history by explaining that he's part of the generation that invented hip hop. Except that hip hop was bubbling up into existence with people who were already teenagers when Laz Alonso was in diapers.
5. Introduce female choreographer. Explore misogyny for 15 seconds. Become uncomfortable with ideas. Disappear female choreographer.
6. When Josh Holloway (Lost), as the widower coach with a case of the alcoholisms, bitterly swigs from his bottomless flask and talks about how there's "no I in 'team,'" how his charges were "born for this moment" and something else about thinking like a champion and being a champion and believing in your mind or whatever. If inspirational chatter were a multi-car freeway collision, the body count would be in the hundreds.
7. When Josh Holloway winnows down his crew to a final team of 13 dancers using the same headshot-disposal system of elimination employed by Tyra Banks on America's Next Top Model.
8. When Josh Holloway then enacts that system of elimination by employing wizarding magic as dancers simply *pop* out of existence in dance routines. [note: this is the greatest recurring tragedy motif of 2013 that doesn't involve Tyler Perry giving righteous judgment AIDS to any female character who misbehaves]
9. When Chris Brown plays Chris Brown. He disappears along with the female choreographer. Nobody minds.
10. When you're pretty clear on how the characters named "Flipz," "Sniper" and "Mayhem" got their dance crew battle-names, and you're even fairly certain you get why the guy named "Intricate" got his name even though you think it sounds a little high-falutin'. But then, just as you're close to finding out how the dancer named "Lil Adonis" got his name -- because someone actually says, "Hey, Lil Adonis! Why do they call you Lil Adonis?" -- the movie withholds, maddeningly and without mercy, leaving you to presume that he is merely short. But you live with that mystery, and that's a forever thing. It'll haunt you in ways you can't begin to imagine, long after you stop bothering to wonder why they just dispensed with Chris Brown.