Chris Stokes, 2004, USA, 90 mins
Omarion, Marques Houston , Jennifer Freeman, J-boog
"May the dopest crew win"
Teen movies have been a constantly piped out of Hollywood, in recent years, tapping straight into the 12-15-year-old market, and churning out features that do pretty much exactly what they say on the tin.
You Got Served takes aim at that group, telling a story set in the super-competitive world of urban street dancing.
As seen in many pop videos involving the more hip hop/urban of boy bands, who think they are bit street, you get a section where the artists indulge in fancy footwork, flips, and elaborate gyrations to show their dance moves. You Got Served basically lives in that universe. It opens in a dilapidated warehouse, with a roped-off, boxing style ring, where groups of young dancers, face off against rival gangs, to win the favour of the crowd and hard cash. With break beats and hip-hop as backing music, the crews put together a series of semi-improvised moves while facing their opponents, like a more intimidating street version of line dancing.
The group with the best head-spins and bamboozling freestyle are led by Elgin (Marques Houston) and David (Omari "Omarion" Grandberry) who are best of friends. Younger (American) members of the audience would most likely recognise these two as being from IMX and B2K, two actual bands who possibly didn't name themselves. The story sees their crew challenged to a $10,000 dance-off contest with a rival set of street punks, led by a white dancer who looks like a young Mathew Lillard.
You Got Served follows a very predictable Rocky trajectory, with Elgin's band learning to overcome adversity, and having to put aside their differences to win the day. The dance sequences, which take up a fair proportion of the movie, are full of energy and contain some inventive choreography and the editing isn't marred by too many MTV style jump-cuts. The problem is the film only really works in these scenes because, in between, it tries to represent an edgy, Boys in the Hood world. As the set up is designed for a PG-13 audience, it comes off looking more like Vanilla Ice. So when a character is hit in a drive-by shooting, it doesn't fit in with all these designer label wearing kids, who mostly act like middle-class contestants on American Idol. Add to this the feeling that clichés and stereotypes are dealt here as liberally as the drugs David and Elgin are supposed to be delivering.
It's hard to imagine this having too much credibility with its target audience, although it's not completely terrible. Prior knowledge of J-Boog and Lil' Fizz, would mean you knew what to expect.