What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie sends mixed messages -- the language is strong for young teens including references to "hooker heels" and a Monica Lewinsky joke. There are some tense confrontations and threatened violence. Role models are confusing. Characters drink and sell drugs but in spite of the "hot" dancing, a strength of the movie is its portrayal of sexual values. Honey is very clear with her boss about boundaries and her romance with a local barber is sweet and understated.
What's the story?
Jessica Alba plays Honey, a sweet and sunny girl who teaches hip-hop to kids at the community center even though her mother tells her that she should be pursuing a career in ballet. Honey is spotted by a director of music videos (David Moscow) who makes her lead dancer and choreographer. She is just about to achieve her dream of putting her students into a video starring Ginuwine when it turns out that the video director is interested in more than her dance skills. She turns him down and he fires her. Even worse, he fires the kids and makes her tell them. Setting her sights on providing kids an alternative to thug life, Honey looks for ways to buy a building up for sale.
Is it any good?
The movie is very short, less than 90 minutes; this is the good news. For those who think it's been too long since a movie like Breakin' 2: Electric Boolago, or even Lambada: The Forbidden Dance, there now is HONEY, the story of a spunky girl who dazzles hip-hop superstars with her dance moves but whose dream is helping the kids in her neighborhood. Alba has a lovely smile and Joy Bryant (Antwone Fisher) adds some verve to the sassy best friend role. Hip-hop fans will enjoy seeing favorite performers like Tweet, L'il Romeo, and Missy Elliott.
The bad news is that it is just dumb, way past cheesy-but-fun into the realm of From Justin to Kelly-level you-must-be-kidding. Its efforts to be hip make it as instantly out of date as if the characters used words like "groovy" and "out of sight." When Honey is under pressure to improve her choreography for one video, she gives the dancers a (presumably very expensive) break and goes for a pensive walk, where she draws inspiration from the moves of kids playing basketball and jumping rope. I'm not kidding. It wouldn't be so terrible that the plot, dialogue, and performances were so poor if the movie's reason for being -- the music and dance numbers -- had more energy and style. Worst of all, the movie fails to take advantage of the talents of performers like the glorious Lonette McKee (Jungle Fever) and Mekhi Phifer, who pretty much stand around looking embarrassed.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how Honey decided what was important to her and about the answer to the question, "How come you turned out so well?" They might also want to talk about what people a few years from now will think about the styles of dance and slang in this movie.