A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Battle of the Year is a drama about a hip-hop dance crew (including a cocky dancer played by musician Chris Brown) training to take on the world's best groups in an international competition. Though it lacks originality, it emphasizes teamwork above ego and artistry over showboating. A main character is an alcoholic who's trying to quit. Expect plenty of swearing -- "s--t," "damn," "hell," etc. -- and some sexual innuendo and confrontational behavior, primarily shouting and one fistfight. Several products are shown, especially those from Sony.
What's the story?
Hip-hop producer Dante (Laz Alonso) is tired of seeing the American dance crew he sponsors lose out to teams from all the other countries that compete in the definitive international B-boy tournament held in France. His current crew has lost its groove, so he hires an old college buddy, Jason Blake (Josh Holloway). Not only was Blake a great basketball player, but he's the ultimate team-builder, and he starts by assembling a new crew from scratch, including a cocksure dancer named Rooster (Chris Brown), whose ego is as massive as his talent. Blake's second-in-command, Franklyn (Josh Peck), isn't sure how this is going to work, and neither is Dante ... especially since Blake is struggling with an alcohol problem after the deaths of his wife and son.
Is it any good?
The dancing in BATTLE OF THE YEAR is mind-bendingly good, with limbs and bodies flying around so fast that they seem to defy gravity. No doubt the men who make up the B-boy crew are talented and eminently watchable -- essential in a dance movie. What else works? The story's quick ramp-up, which dispenses with the prologue in 10 efficient minutes.
But let's be clear: Battle of the Year isn't memorable. And it isn't innovative. (Sample dialogue: "There's no 'I' in team.") It can be fun to watch, and you may even laugh at its unoriginal jokes, but you'll recover from this battle in no time flat, forgetting what was at stake in the first place.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the coach's approach to team-building and training. Cliched as it may seem, what does it truly mean when someone says there's no "I" in team?
Is Battle of the Year different from other dance movies? The same? Is there a formula? And if so, does there have to be?
What does the coach learn from his dancers?
- In theaters: September 20, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: December 10, 2013
- Cast: Chris Brown, Josh Holloway, Josh Peck, Laz Alonzo
- Director: Benson Lee
- Studio: Screen Gems
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Great Boy Role Models
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some rude behavior and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.