Thursday, June 18, 2009

When Bad Movies Happen To Good Casts : Honey.

Jessica Alba is proof positive that if you're a reasonably hot chick you don't really need talent to make it in Hollywood, just a few lucky breaks. Her big break was Fox's shortlived sci-fi drama Dark Angel, a show I don't remember for much other than her occasionally tight black stretch pants. Apparently occasionally tight black stretch pants are enough to launch a career, or so some Hollywood exec thought, which resulted in Alba's disastrous 2003 star vehicle, Honey.

For those of you without basic cable who have somehow managed to not already see this movie, it's a cross between Fame, FlashDance, and every other "artist with big dreams who overcomes the odds to succeed" PG-13 flick you've ever seen. And yeah, it sucks. Royally. And yes, I've seen it, many times. Need I remind ya'll, I'm married.

[Editor's Note: For those unaware, this movie was originally cooked up by producer Andre Harrell as a star vehicle for Aaliyah (R.I.P.).]

The premise of the film centers around an ethnically ambiguous classically trained dancer named Honey Daniels (Alba) whose mother (the lovely Lonette McKee, whom I'm just happy to see working) wants her to join the ballet. But Honey has dreams of bigger things: Namely becoming a video vixen. (WTH?) She teaches "hip hop dancing classes" to "wayward teens" at a "community center" in an "unsafe part of town" to bide her time before she "gets a big break". That break finally comes when a seedy producer spots her at a club and gives her a series of high profile gigs for rappers like Missy Elliott and Jadakiss. But no favor comes without strings attached, and of course the seedy producer wants something in return for his hookup. Will Honey lay down on the proverbial casting couch to advance her career, or stick to her morals and stay in the hood'? Inquiring minds don't really give a shit. The whole thing culminates with a talent showcase to raise $20k to save a community center for poor wayward young Negroes. This climax is greatest act of fiction in a movie full of stretches.

The reasons why this movie was an epic fail are pretty obvious from the trailer. Namely, how can you be the star of a movie about dancing when your ass cannot actually dance? That's like a movie about a stripper who doesn't actually strip. Alba's knock kneed gyrating is so bad, she makes Brandy look like Debbie Allen. No amount of camera tricks, cutaways, and background dancers can hide this fatal flaw. Seriously, watch this.

Yeah, that was pretty bad. So is Lil' Romeo, as a neighborhood tough kid that Honey hopes to reform through the power of interpretive dance. Did I mention that he can't dance either? Nor can his little brother (the same kid who plays his little brother on that Nickelodeon show). This all adds up to some extremely awkward dance scenes.

Has there ever been a movie about something that the movie's main stars did so poorly? Could you imagine a movie about sangin' where all the stars lipsynched? Isn't some modicum of the associated talent actually required for the role? I'm just sayin'. And since I'm on a tangent, isn't this whole "Nice White Lady" genre of movies growing a bit stale by now? Originality, please.

This movie made Bad Movies/Good Casts because some of the other folks in the cast actually are reputable thespians who clearly just needed to pay off some bills. Joy Bryant was so good in Antwone Fisher, but as Honey's mouthy, non-dancing sidekick, she's clearly just included to give the ethnically ambiguous classically trained dancer some street cred. Mekhi Phifer is all teeth and clumsy dialogue as Honey's barbering boyfriend, which I can't really fault him for. I would be too if I got to mail in a halfassed performance, oggle Alba, and get a check for my inconvenience. Hell, sign me up for that gig. Just don't ask me (or Alba) to dance.

Question: Did you see Honey? Is it just me and AverageSis, or could Alba not cut a rug if you gave her a chainsaw?

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