All kidding aside, this is a pretty awful movie. With its blaring, repetitive rap soundtrack and the cochlea shattering crowd noise, You Got Served resembles an endless, uncreative music video punctuated with stilted dialogue and telegraphed conflicts. In short, it makes the similarly themed Honey look like Casablanca.
Hold on for the plot. David (Omari Grandberry) and Elgin (Marques Johnson) are two young adults trying to get by in the mean streets of Los Angeles. When they're not working as drug runners (or -- judging by the bulky, insulated bags they carry -- pizza men) they participate in warehouse "battles" supervised by Mr. Rad (Steve Harvey, phoning it in here). The battles don't involve guns and knives, but tightly choreographed, frenetic dancing, with the winner getting a nice cash prize.
The opportunity for more money comes when two Orange County white boys (and I'm using the word "boys" really loosely) challenge David and Elgin's squad to a $5,000 dance-off. I wish this was the main thrust of the movie, but the wager leads to a whole cornucopia of recycled, strained subplots that leads to the duo's friendship being tested in one final "battle."
Director and writer Christopher B. Stokes makes a ton of mistakes. The first is by not exploring what brings these kids together to dance, how they feed off the crowd, and who attends these events. How do white kids from the OC fit into this predominantly black experience? You Got Served could be a hip hop Saturday Night Fever, an illuminating look at youth culture zeitgeist, but Stokes gets lazy. We never know David and Elgin's world. Instead, Stokes opts to shoot dance scene after dance scene to the point where you're not amazed by the dancers' dexterity, but just plain annoyed. He shuffles characters in and out to fit dramatic convenience, so that we never know any of these people aside from their smooth moves or emotionless line readings.
The most shameless example is the treatment of Lil Saint (Malcom David Kelley), a minor character who bonds with David and Elgin's dance group and is very close to another member, Rio (Jarrell Houston). It's quite clear from the start -- spoiler ahead -- that the boy is in the movie solely to get killed. Stokes makes this evident with the subtlety of a kick to the groin: It's mentioned that the kid runs with the wrong crowd, and Rio is a guardian to the kid and does nothing aside from buying him ice cream to steer the poor bastard away from his demise. You can practically hear gunshots every time the boy is onscreen.
And then there's the movie's sound. As I write this review, I have a pounding headache. The dance scenes are dominated with piercing, Cheap Trick at Budokan-like screaming that'll turn your inner ear to jelly. I guess this was done to appeal to the younger crowd, who like their music loud and their Mountain Dew cold. It's meant to drive people like me to see 21 Grams or Along Came Polly.
The funny thing is that by reveling in its youth coolness, by hammering home its hip-hop dance beats and video cinematography, You Got Served proves how lame and temporary it really is.
You got one yellow hat.
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Friday 30th January 2004
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
IMDB: 3.3 / 10
Director: Christopher B. Stokes
Screenwriter: Christopher B. Stokes