If each decade must have its own “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo,” things could be worse than “You Got Served.” Latest formula reheating of snotty (white) outsiders vs. plucky (black) homies is a serviceable youth pic that’s marginally less dumb than November’s urban quasi-musical “Honey.” Pic won’t be more than a blip on the radar for most grownups, but, if nonstop screams and squeals from a largely under-15 preview aud are any sign, “Served” should score a couple of heady weeks among those who spend their afterschool hours with MTV and BET.
Making his feature directorial bow, musicvid veteran and producer/manager (notably of R&B group B2K, whose members fill several roles here) Christopher B. Stokes also wrote the script, which has a storyline so simple even little kids won’t find it a challenge to follow it.
Elgin (Marques Houston of IMX) and David (Omari Grandberry, aka Omarion of B2K, who’s Houston’s real-life brother) are best friends who lead an L.A. street-dancing troupe that performs regularly at the neighborhood venue run by Mr. Rad (Steve Harvey). Strapped for cash, the two young men also run occasional, questionably legal errands for local crime boss Emerald (Jabba the Hut-like Michael “Bear” Taliferro).
David has a reputation as a Casanova, but Elgin draws the line when David gets serious about Elgin’s comely little sister Liyah (Jennifer Freeman). This rift develops into a chasm when Elgin is jumped and robbed on a solo delivery mission for Emerald — while David, who should have been watching his back, was out making time with Liyah.
Resulting bad blood splinters their dance crew, just as they are invited to compete in a big MTV dance-off. However, when a tyke is killed in a drive-by shooting, the protags reunite for the dance-off, beating back a straight-outta-Orange-County crew led by sneering, spiky-haired wigger Wade (Christopher Jones).
Prize is $50,000 and a spot in a new video starring Lil’ Kim (one of many personalities playing themselves in cameos here). As Mr. Rad puts it, “Money isn’t the important thing, friendship is.” But hey, friendship plus money is even better.
Ultra-baggy hip-hop fashion trends of the last few years don’t ideally complement dance moves, nor does the usual overactive, musicvid-bred editorial approach.
Nonetheless, main attraction here is the large number of body-rocking segs. They showcase dynamic old-school breakdancing, plus mind-boggling acrobatics and even a little modern-dance/musical theater-influenced choreography. It’s easy to forget the eminently forgettable plot when so many feet are flying.
Perfs are as good as they need to be, which (off the competition floor, at least) is just competent. Only notable weak link is dewy ingenue Freeman (from ABC sitcom “My Wife and Kids”), who seems to have wandered in from “Valley Girl 2.” She makes a line like, “Your boy is really trippin’ ” sound uncomfortably close to “Omigawd! Gag me with a spoon!”
Harvey’s comic chops are barely tapped.
Design and tech aspects are nondescript: You have to think the music supervisor was running out of ideas when de rigueur wall-to-wall soundtrack of hip-hop and neo-soul cuts — featuring Timbaland, Ludacris, Method Man, DMX, Redman, several from B2K, etc. — finds room for a dance-floor version of “Fur Elise.”