May 5, 2004 -- “Honey” is a dance movie with quite a few similarities to another dance film, “Flashdance.” This one features break dancing and rap music, an interracial romance, and no welding. There are some dazzling acrobatic dance moves, but the story is pretty lame, even by “Flashdance” standards.
Honey Daniels (played by Jessica Alba of “Idle Hands”), teaches hip-hop dancing at a small community center in New York. She dreams of a career in dance. One day, she gets her big break when big-time music video director Michael Ellis (played by David Moscow of “Riding in Cars with Boys”) spots her in a night club and invites her to be in an upcoming video, then lets her choreograph several videos for top-name performers, including Missy Elliott, Ginuwine, Jadakiss & Sheek and Tweet. It all seems to good to be true, and it is.
Various complications arise in the story. Honey's career, and her emotions, take a wild roller coaster ride. Her romance with local barber Chaz (Mekhi Phifer of “8 Mile”) heats up. She tries to start up her own dance studio. She tries to save some local kids from going bad, and she has to contend with her mother, who doesn't approve of any kind of dancing except ballet. Her mother actually thinks there's more money in ballet than there is in music videos. Isn't that, like totally wrong? Honey also has to contend with Ellis, who tries to scuttle her career. She also has a falling out with her friends over a missed birthday bash. All this melodramatic slop has a soap opera scum ring around it. All of these minor conflicts seem forced and unconvincing. The resolution to all these conflicts is equally unconvincing.
These plot deficiencies, which aren't unusual in dance movies, by the way, are offset by some good musical and dance numbers. The best stuff is done by the acrobatic break dancers, who do great head spins, leaps and pretzel-like leg twists. Some of these acrobatic moves are breathtaking. Alba is also a good enough dancer to hold her own in many dance scenes. Alba's great beauty and graceful movements also help sell her character. Playing her best friend, Gina, in the film is another beauty, Joy Bryant of “Antwone Fisher.” Also appearing in the film is Zachary Isaiah Williams, who plays the incredibly cute little kid Raymond. His brother, Benny, is ably played by rapper Lil’ Romeo. There is some good music in the film, too. Most of it is written by grammy-winning producer Rodney Jerkins, including the film's dramatic, climactic song, “I Believe.” The strength of the music and dancing is understandable given that the film's director, Bille Woodruff, specializes in music videos.
I saw this film on DVD and I was impressed by the quality of the 16 deleted scenes. Many of these good deleted scenes were dance numbers. Judging by the finished product, and the weakness of the plot, it appears the film should have had more dancing. There are only two brief dance numbers during the film's big climax. This seemed a bit skimpy. Another dance or two would not have hurt. The extras on the DVD are informative, including the obligatory “making of” featurette. The DVD includes two music videos. There are also outtakes and a dance instruction video featuring Laurieann Gibson (who also plays Honey's nemesis, Katrina, in the movie), the film's choreographer. The DVD also has a commentary track by director Bille Woodruff and actress Jessica Alba. Audio is Dolby (TM) Digital 5.1. French and Spanish audio tracks are included along with closed captions and Spanish and French subtitles. The movie rates a C, while the DVD, with all those quality extras, rates a B.
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