The creative team who also brought audiences You Got Served obviously know how to make a dance movie. This time, they take all the conventions of the genre, throw them in a dryer on high and shrink them down to mini-me size---the dancers are little tiny kids with little tiny sneakers and big huge attitudes. Unfortunately, most of the other Dance Movie Rules get downsized too, resulting in a movie that's only a tiny bit impressive.
Dance Movies Should Have:
A Reluctant Coach: Marques Houston, also in You Got Served, plays Sean Lewis, a successful marketing so-and-so who hates kids but loves driving drunk. He gets sentenced to community service when the cops catch him, and he has to deal with the little ragamuffins at the Long Beach community center. Sean is fun to watch when he's calling kids fat and telling them to get braces for their jacked-up grills. But then without warning, he starts caring about their absentee fathers and schoolyard crushes and becomes lame. Also occurring in the scene I must have missed is Sean falling in love with The Woman with a Heart of Gold Who Helps Him See the Light (Mekia Cox). I have no idea why she ended up liking him, aside from the fact that he wears nice suits and stopped using the word "fat."
A Crappy First Attempt at Dancing That Must Be Redeemed: There's no doubt about it--these kids can dance. To be able to bust moves like this at such a young age bodes well for the entire cast. But the Long Beach Ragamuffins (who really call themselves the Bad Boys, but since the name reminds me of the second Michael Bay movie that was terrible, I am taking liberties to revise it) don't really go through enough of a transformation to make the ending triumphant. Perhaps it's the too-fast editing of too-similar camera angles, or the repeated use of The Earthquake Cam that shakes when dancers hit the ground, but I never felt like standing up and cheering any of the crews. This is something that the Step Up movies always manage to deliver in a huge way, and it's all that these movies have, since we don't pay money to hear the dancers talking, we just put up with it until they start doing flips off each others' backs and stuff.
A Parent Who Refuses to See Dancing As a Legitimate Art Form: Usually this attribute belongs to the parent/guardian of the main character, but since there isn't one, this plot point gets crammed in the last 15 minutes and is rendered completely ineffective. As far as main characters go, Tristen M. Carter plays Eric, a particularly troubled kid that Sean pays attention to towards the end of the movie, but by then, it's hard to care that he is throwing himself on his mother's casket and calling his dad names.
A Really Mean Rival Crew: We barely see the other crew for the whole movie. Their name, The Bang Crew, represents how borderline creepy it is to be watching kids in elementary school popping and locking in abandoned warehouses. We don't really have evidence that they're mean, but their hair indicates aggression--there's one baby mohawk, and their coach (Christopher Jones) has blonde frosted tips straight out of 1998's very popular Sally Beauty Supply Brochure titled How to Succeed in Looking Hardcore Without Really Trying. Other than that, though, no real threat here. And everyone's dancing all kind of looks the same, so who's really the winner? Not the audience.
A Hot Title: I keep accidentally calling this movie Battlefield Earth, and every time I make the mistake, I get crankier and crankier. If only there were space ships in this movie...