Battle of the Year (PG-13)

Drama 109 September 20, 2013
By Amy Nicholson
B-boy dancing, i.e. manly cheerleading, is in peril. The U.S. invented it, but now the Koreans, Russians, Germans, and Japanese, a veritable goon squad of 20th-century villains, have taken over, and the French-- the French!-- sponsor the biggest international dance-off, the Battle of the Year. Merde! Have they forgotten we saved their asses on the Maginot Soul Train Line? Over a militaristic soundtrack of snare drums and mournful horns, urban-wear impresario Dante Graham (Laz Alonso) warns that America is losing its honor—and that he won't be able to sell as many shoes. Time for Hollywood's favorite hero, an alcoholic basketball coach (Josh Holloway), to save the day by forming a B-boy Dream Team from a posse of flexible street kids. His second-in-command: a Jewish breakdancing-scholar (Josh Peck) who sighs that he lost his swagger when he was circumcised. Brin Hill and Chris Parker's script is as original as Puff Daddy during his rapping-over-Sting phase. Are there speeches? Holloway is literally forced to say, "There is no 'I' in 'team.'" It's even structured like a reality show, as Coach whittles the gang from 36 to 22 to 13, handing the klutzy a bus pass home like a Bachelorette doling out roses. To save time, it simply name-checks athletes we already know, explaining away the bad blood between Rooster (Chris Brown) and Do Knock (Jon "Do Knock" Cruz) as a "Kobe-and-Shaq thing." Alas, director Benson Lee lacks the florid visual style of Step Up 3D, which remains the Citizen Kane of the genre--this is strictly a concrete-and-barbed-wire, crotch-grabbing back-flips exertion. But the dorky, jingoistic charm wins points, even if just for daring to dress the team in red, white, and blue Kangols while the judges scream, "Korea strikes back with an aerial assault!"
Benson Lee Josh Holloway, Laz Alonso, Josh Peck, Caity Lotz, Chris Brown Brin Hill, Chris Parker Beau Flynn, Tripp Vinson, Amy Lo Sony Pictures


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