Hi, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab...
Y’know, the guys who made this film were probably the only ones who weren’t surprised by the numbers this weekend. They knew that they were making a film for a specialty market, and that there was an audience for the movie. Everyone else is still scratching their heads, trying to figure out how a movie starring no one they’ve ever heard of opened to the biggest Super Bowl Weekend opening numbers ever.
And was our own Foywonder one of those people who was chomping at the bit to see this one before it came out? Evidently, because here he is with another testament to pain, just for you...
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the movie BREAKIN’. My sister took me to see it when I was still a wee lad and we both had a really good time. While I personally was not into the whole breakdancing fad, I’m more than willing to admit that I am a white boy with all the rhythm of a pregnant yak (Credit Chiun, Master of Shinanju for the metaphor.), BREAKIN’ was light, breezy, cheesy fun. Two of the reasons why BREAKIN’ is still a popular movie is because it really is a great time capsule of mid-80’s pop culture as well as a celebration of that particular form of dance. BREAKIN’ was a very upbeat movie and despite not having the best acting or a particularly good script it is almost impossible to deny that the film’s joy and energy doesn’t spill over into the audience watching it.
YOU GOT SERVED is no BREAKIN’. Hell, it isn’t even LAMBADA.
The 80’s are back in full force as evidenced by the return of He-Man, Garbage Pail Kids, and 72 hour non-stop marathons of I Love The 80’s on VH1. Apparently breakdancing has also returned but don’t call it breakdancing anymore. No, the phrase breakdancing is never uttered once in this movie. Now it’s called street dancing. Why they didn’t just call the movie STREETIN’ is… Nevermind, STREETIN’ sounds really retarded.
Anyway, street dancing as best I can tell from watching the movie is a hybrid form of dance that combines the traditional forms and movements of breakdancing, rhythmic gymnastics, and epileptic seizures. I’m not going lie to you. Some of the street dancing scenes in YOU GOT SERVED are quite entertaining and the final dance sequence in particular is nothing short of dynamic. In fact, there was one moment during the big dance finale where one of the dancers did this amazing split-legged headstand which appeared to have been filmed using bullet time only after a few seconds you realize it wasn’t a camera trick but the guy was spinning himself in that position in super slow motion. When everyone in the audience realized this a round of applause erupted and I’d say the guy deserved it. It was an absolutely unreal maneuver that has to be seen to be believed but unfortunately, in order to do so you have to sit through the rest of the movie. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
As much as I praise the dance choreography for the most part, there was still an element to the dance scenes that I personally found ridiculous. The majority of the dance sequences are what are known on the street as “battles,” wherein two competing dance teams, or “crews” as they also say on the streets, go back and forth trying to one up one another, as about every other movement culminates in a lewd gesture being made at the other crew, with dance moves for a specified amount of time. When the time expires a judge steps in and decides the winner based on crowd applause. The winning crew gets the money that each team had to put up before competing.
As I watched these rival dance crews talk trash and make lewd gestures at one another I couldn’t help but to wonder if anyone out there really realizes how profoundly idiotic this all is. This isn’t a pick-up basketball or football game. It’s a talent show. It’s competitive dancing. Dancing is not usually looked upon as being amongst the most masculine or testosterone driven activities out there but here are these guys (and a few girls too) trash talking and posturing like pro wrestlers about how they kicked the other crew’s ass. Yes, kicked their ass – at dancing! It’s dancing, people! Could you imagine competitive ballroom dancers choreographing their dance moves so it ends with them mocking the competition by grabbing their crotches in a suggestive manner or bent over signaling for the competition to kiss their ass? Actually, more people would probably watch ballroom dance competitions if they did but I digress. While street dancing may be a more aggressive form of dance it is still just dancing and seeing it turned into an in your face game of one upsmanship struck me as one of the most retarded things I’ve seen in quite some time. When did something as simple as dancing get turned into not only a form of gambling, but a means by which respect is measured? Oh wait, I forgot that street credibility and keeping it real are what it’s all about today. I guess in that case YOU GOT SERVED accurately reflects the all important “I’m better than you, beeyotch!” mentality that permeating so many aspects of society today. You didn’t see those two breakdancers performing for the Pope giving each other the finger but then they weren’t Americans.
As I said earlier, BREAKIN’ had a shoddy script and questionable acting but it wasn’t so bad that it dragged the movie down. YOU GOT SERVED doesn’t escape that fate as it boasts what may be the laziest screenwriting I’ve seen in a long, long time and mind you I have seen TORQUE. At least TORQUE never got hung up on hackneyed melodrama. Take the energetic dance routines out of YOU GOT SERVED and all you’re left with is what I suspect What’s Happening! would be like if reinvented as a really boring drama by UPN.
How’s this for a pedigree? YOU GOT SERVED stars a member of the hip hop group IMX, his brother who is a member of the group B2K, other members of B2K in supporting roles, and the writer, director, and producer of the movie is the manager for both groups. The ultimate irony here is that B2K split up not too long ago. Not soon enough if you ask me.
YOU GOT SERVED is the tale of Elgin and David, best friends looking to escape life in South Central Los Angeles but I don’t see how this will ever happen as the only thing they ever seem to do is dance and shoot hoops. Their only means of making money comes from winning dance battles with their crew but to raise money to compete in them they occasionally serve as couriers for Emeril, a local gangsta who looks like Notorious B.I.G. if he had lived and gone on to swallow Suge Knight. I don’t think it was ever established if they’re couriering drugs or drug money for Emeril as the contents of the backpacks they transport is never revealed on only referred to as Emeril’s “stuff”. Either way they’re really nonchalant about it and that doesn’t exactly paint these two in a good light in my book.
Elgin and David’s crew is considered the best crew in the hood and before long they find themselves being challenged by another crew from Orange County of all places led by an obnoxious rich white boy with a Billy Idol sneer and Dragonball Z hair. Elgin and David are both amused and insulted that some millionaire’s son from the O.C. would dare to want to come down to their neighborhood, the same one they talk of wanting to get the hell out of, and look to take their crown. However, the challenge is for $5000 and Elgin and David tell their crew they will put up on their own money, and take a larger chunk of the winnings too, but $5000 is something they don’t quite have. $1500 short, Elgin visits his grandmother and after explaining to her about the evil rich honky’s challenge and how his street credibility is at stake she responds by giving him a speech on the importance of earning respect and then proceeds to give him the money. First of all, I don’t think gambling on dance battles is what Aretha Franklin had in mind when she sang R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Secondly, I want this woman to be my grandma. I’ll just tell her how some of the talkbackers were mean to me and then walk out of the house with a cool grand in my pocket.
I might as well mention that all of these dance battles take place inside a warehouse owned by Mr. Rad. As most of you know, Congress passed a constitutional amendment a few years back requiring Steve Harvey to appear in every movie geared towards a young “urban” audience so here he is as Mr. Rad. The producers must have shot him with a tranquilizer dart before every scene he’s in because this is the most subdued I’ve ever seen the habitual scene chewer. One thing I found amusing about his character is how he genuinely seems to care about the kids that compete in his warehouse and always preaches to them about friendship and sportsmanship but whenever things start getting too heated he tells them to “save that for the street” so he apparently doesn’t have any problem with the possibility of the rivalries leading to spilled blood just as long as the blood isn’t spilled on his property.
Things start going bad for the less than dynamic duo when the O.C. crew defeats them thanks to some backstabbing by a fellow crew, who didn’t think he potential cut of the purse was big enough so he jumped sides and taught the O.C. crew all of Elgin and David’s routines. The loss also prompts the first use of the film’s title as the evil jiggy WASP gets in their face and tells them “You suckas got served!” prompting much laughter from the audience. Somehow I just don’t think that phrase is going to catch on. David then vows to get payback on the traitor but that whole subplot is never brought up again. Also, David has begun romancing Elgin’s sister Liyah and that doesn’t sit well with Elgin creating tension between the two. David is out on a date with Liyah and because she turned off his cell phone he doesn’t get an urgent call from Elgin about making an important delivery for Emeril ASAP. I’m not exactly sure why either of them need a cell phone seeing as how neither of them have a real job and they don’t seem to do anything other than play basketball, practice their dance moves, and just stand or sit around “keepin’ it real.” Elgin has to go it alone and ends up getting jumped inside a crack house where his leg gets badly injured and Emeril’s “stuff” gets stolen. So now with his leg in a splint and in serious trouble with the neighborhood gansta, Elgin blames on David for not being there, declares their friendship over, and once again orders him to stay away from his sister. Liyah is desperate to get the best friends back together and their crew also has divided loyalties as David starts his own crew which a few of them jumped to.
It’s in this portion of the film that Elgin sits on a couch talking about how the doctors told him his leg will never be the same again meaning his dancing and basketball playing days are over. This prompts him to say, “I can’t dance. I can’t play basketball. What am I supposed to do now?” Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you could go out and get a friggin’ job like the rest of us? Instead what he ends up doing is, I kid you not, doing a training montage straight out of a ROCKY movie with him performing leg stretching exercises and weight training. With this he miraculously heals his leg and the subject of it never being 100% again is never brought up. However, his personal well being is still in jeopardy as Emeril makes it perfectly clear to him that he’ll make sure he never walks again unless he gets paid back for the “stuff” he lost. Emeril is nice enough to give him a few weeks to do so and it’s just Elgin’s luck that The Big Bounce is coming up in a few weeks. No, not that new Owen Wilson movie that ironically opened the same weekend as this film. No, The Big Bounce is this big street dancing competition where the winning team gets $50,000 and will appear in a Lil’ Kim music video. Elgin vows to put a crew together and win The Big Bounce so he can pay Emeril and his grandmother back and fulfill his dreams of street dancing stardom.
So after a mini music video consisting of Elgin and David performing slow motion dance moves in a pounding rainstorm in what is obviously just an excuse to pad the film and get them shirtless and wet, it’s off to The Big Bounce. It will come down to five teams that will compete in the finals the next day. David’s team does not advance but Elgin’s does as well as those cheatin’ wiggers from Orange County.
Oh, remember that whole subplot about Elgin desperately needing the money to pay Emeril back or end up getting kneecapped? Mr. Rad shows up at the dance-off and informs Liyah that he’s already taken care of Emeril by sicking a cop friend on him but he’s not going to tell him or David just yet because he thinks they both deserve to sweat it out a bit more. Yes, an entire major subplot is done away with off camera and then completely dropped. The two main characters don’t even bring the subject up again in the movie despite never giving any indication that they’ve been told by anyone what went down. Have I mentioned how pathetic this movie’s script is?
One thing I know I haven’t mentioned is that there’s been this precocious little kid that a member of Elgin’s crew serves as a big brother for. Known as Lil’ Saint, the kid is always showing up and asking to become a member of their crew but is always being told that he’s still to small to compete with them. I was absolutely positively convinced that this kid would end becoming a part of the crew for the big finale and turn out to be some dancin’ machine that would blow everyone away. You know what I’m talking about because we’ve all seen this sort of character before. Well, the writers of YOU GOT SERVED weren’t having any of that because the kid ends up getting gunned down in an (off-camera) drive-by instead. At the end of the first day of competition, they get a phone call about it and all rush to the hospital where the doctor has to tearfully break the news to them that Lil’ Saint died prompting some major league overacting on the part of the despondent crew. Somehow I don’t think the screenwriter meant for this turn of events to generate laughter from the audience but that’s what he got. The hospital scene is so laughably overwrought down to the overly overly dramatic score that the crowd I saw the movie with was giggling all through it.
This is followed up with the scene where Liyah gets Elgin and David in the same room and how Lil’ Saint’s death shows how life is too short. We’ve all seen movies with scenes like this so we know this is where the former friends will patch things up and go back to being best friends. Nope, not this time. The scene ends and they’re still at each other’s throats. I’m all for screenwriters avoiding clichÃ©s but for crying out loud, these are two occasions where they should have just used the damn clichÃ©s.
It’s the next day at the finals of The Big Bounce and Elgin’s crew has officially adopted the name The Lil’ Saints and even have hats with Lil’ Saint airbrushed on them and one crew member is wearing a T-shirt with a huge airbrushed picture of this kid. So in their state of mourning they found the time to track down an all night airbrush artist? I mean what the hell? Lil’ Kim shows up and serves as one of the judges, albeit a judge wearing a teeny weenie bikini top that she’s on the verge of busting out of. The camera makes absolute certain to get her breasts right in the eye line of every close-up she’s has. In what should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone, the competition results in a tie between the O.C. crew and the Lil’ Saints. Nobody’s happy about this especially the two crews who nearly get into a brawl. Fortunately Mr. Rad comes running down out of the stands and gets in Lil’ Kim’s ear suggesting they settle it in a battle just like they do on the street. She didn’t seem to give a damn what this man had to say, and frankly I think her bodyguards would have annihilated a guy like him before he even got with three feet of her in real life, until he uttered those two magic words – the street.
I swear to God you could play a drinking game based around the use of the term “the street”, as it is the most commonly used phrase in the movie. Everything is about “the street”. They should have done something like the special word of the day on PeeWee’s Playhouse and have everyone scream and go nuts every time someone says “the street.”
The mention of “the street” makes Lil’ Kim’s eyes light up like Marlon Brando’s when someone says the words “all you can eat buffet” and so she approves of a final winner takes all battle between the two crews right then and there. This being the final showdown it’s of course now time for Elgin and David to suddenly, inexplicably patch things up and reunite their original crew. There’s even a last minute ringer for their side. An old friend that had given up battling, who we the audience had never seen before but did hear mentioned in passing by a couple of the characters in the movie, comes out of retirement to rejoin the crew for this final climactic showdown against the forces of well-to-do whiteness. Sure enough, the Lil’ Saints tear the house down through the use of psychic choreography, that uncanny ability possessed by a group of dancers in a movie that have had no time to prepare a routine yet magically put on a perfectly synchronized performance right there on the spot. The highlight of this high-energy routine is that ringer who does some truly incredible moves and easily steals the show. Of course they win and then the evil white boy gets in their face one last time just so our heroes can fire back by zinging him with the movies title. Everyone cheers some more and the closing credits roll.
A couple of really good dance routines are the only saving grace of this otherwise dull and downright dismal movie that will be forgotten faster than you can say BEAT STREET. Alas, there is no Shabba Doo or Booglaoo Shrimp to be found in this movie. There isn’t even a Lucinda Dickey. Seeing as how the audience I saw the movie with reacted to the two on-screen uses of the film’s title in much the same way that Eddie Murphy reacted to walking by the two guys wearing “Thriller” jackets in BEVERLY HILLS COP, perhaps the phrase YOU GOT SERVED will one day make the movie memorable in much the same way ELECTRIC BOOGALOO has helped give the woefully inferior BREAKIN’ 2 a foothold in pop culture. Anyone who dares attempt to use the phrase “you got served” as a serious diss should be beaten to a pulp instantly.
- The Foywonder
Thanks, man. As always, you do the things we’re all afraid to do, and you come out of it with the most wonderful things to say. Good work.