This episode of “Podcast Without Pretense” will be available at GFQNetwork.com
I could have watched this without distractions for longer but my wife interrupted me to ask me something so I stopped. I wasn’t enjoying the movie, but I had not yet felt compelled to call it quits.
Anyway, notes: Jessica Alba is Honey, a name we hear a million goddamn times in the first 13 minutes (and yet I’d forget it was her name and I just thought everyone was calling her a term of endearment). Honey has a best friend named Gina who seems to only exist to provide exposition and to keep saying how awesome Honey is. In other words, this character has no character to her. If you were to ascribe character to her, you’d assume she’s planning on mooching off Honey’s success once she becomes a huge, famous dancing sensation (this is backed up by the fact that she’s currently mooching off Honey in order to get into a club and get drinks for free).
Honey likes to dance in the club she works at but there’s a professional dancer named Katrina who has major attitude for no apparent reason other than movies need conflict. I guess Katrina feels all the attention should be on her and that any attention Honey gets is unmerited.
Honey is a Good Girl. Her Daddy loves her, her Mommy worries about her and wishes she’d pursue ballet, where she could really make a name for herself rather than teaching hip-hop at the local community center and audition for music videos (Honey’s dream is to dance in a music video). Never mind that the world of ballet is insanely competitive, probably more so than the music video world. We see Honey return some money to a guy who dropped it, thus illustrating her honest, pure nature.
Honey, on top of working as a bartender at a club and a hip-hop teacher, also works at a record store. Oh, forgot this part, at the club, a creepy dude is video taping dancers. Turns out he’s scouting for Michael Ellis, a music video director. Michael approaches Honey to dance in his videos, but of course goes about it in a way that makes him seem like he’s a creep trying to get some booty, as Honey puts it. This is quickly resolved so that we don’t have conflict go on for too long in this movie.
Most of this movie consists of dance sequences that, frankly, aren’t that impressive. The breakdancing kid who thinks he’s the shit is a particularly crappy dancer, at least in the beginning. Speaking of the breakdancing kids, they must be into shady shit. Oh yeah, they’re dealing. Shitty dancer kid sees lots of money.
Meanwhile, Honey gets a call from Michael and she’s hired to dance for a video in another day or so, so she shows up and then gets greased up for dancin’. The director wants Honey to dance as if she’s in a club, not doing the choreography, which immediately pisses off the choreographer. I get it. So this movie is all about Honey pissing off people who make their living dancing because her natural abilities overshadow them. This is Amadeus, only with hip hop music and a shit ton of pissed off Salieris.
This movie also seems to be a commercial for various hip hop artists.
Now Honey, Gina, and two nameless ladies are at a restaurant with flies in it. And they’re talking about spending Honey’s money. And then a basketball player guy from the community center comes into the restaurant. Then the music video with Honey comes on simultaneously throughout New York. And Honey uses shitty breakdancer’s move of brushing off his shoulder. He invented that move. No one ever did it before him. Never mind that the move Honey actually referenced in the scene they had earlier was a roll the dice move.
Now Honey is dancing in another music video. I will say this, Alba is in crazy good shape. I still think the dancing itself is pretty pedestrian and boring. But she looks good doing it.
Honey gets her first check and it’s for just under 10 grand. Man, I remember when I thought 10 grand was a lot of money. That would be now.
Hey! Monica Lewinsky reference! Topical!
Gina lays down some truth, telling Honey that Michael plans on trying to hook up with her. And then we go to a gay club that’s the most stereotypical gay club ever, complete with drag show and vogueing.
Ginuwine shows up and apparently the gay club has a VIP straight area. Michael wants Honey to choreograph future videos. BUT AT WHAT COST????
Oh hey, basketball guy is a barber. Shitty breakdancer’s little brother is in to get a haircut. And you know what? This scene is actually okay. Mostly because the little kid is adorable and funny. And then we get into the scene where basketball player is trying to ask out Honey on a date and it all kinda goes downhill. Oh, and basketball player is Chaz. I’m sure they said that earlier and I didn’t hear it.
Shitty breakdancing kid’s little brother is neglected. Ah, so shitty breakdancing kid has a real shitty family. Like, ridiculously shitty. So now we also see that Honey is a good person and good people are continuously shit upon, but will that get our Honey down? I bet it won’t, gosh darn it.
Honey’s at the shoot and is having a crisis as she realizes her video is missing something. She watches a game of street basketball. Looks like there’s inspiration at work here. Oh, now she’s watching kids do double dutch and is coming up with more moves. This is just like Bring it On, only Honey doesn’t steal from the black school across town — she steals from kids in the neighborhood.
Do all these songs have the word ‘honey” in them, or am I mishearing them?
Wow, Gina is a total bitch, waking up the lady who is earning all the money. And then Gina disses Honey. Wow. Everyone in this movie, with the exception of Honey and shitty breakdancing kid’s little brother, is a total asshole.
Now Honey is looking for shitty breakdancing kid because his mom’s boyfriend hit him. And we go from a perfectly nice day to pouring down rain, and from day to night. So. . . that’s weird. Guess they were looking for a long time.
Shitty breakdancing kid is upset that Honey is never around. She abandoned him, just like everyone else. Never mind that she tried to include him at the beginning of the movie and he only got interested in her when she showed up in a music video. Man, this movie is dumb.
She brings the two kids to her next video shoot, which features dancers in gear resembling S&M outfits. Perfect entry point for the kids.
She convinces Michael to pitch Ginuwine a video in which kids are all dressed up and dancing like Ginuwine. And she tells her dance students. And they are excited. And then shitty breakdancing kid’s older brother shows up and threatens Honey because shitty breakdancing kid is part of big brother’s drug selling crew. Chaz to the rescue.
Now Chaz and Honey are going out, I guess. Chaz explains how he turned around things and became a decent person.
Paused the movie. I’m 54 minutes, 57 seconds in. And I’m pausing this because there’s no real conflict in the film. If you had to name a conflict right now, it would be that shitty breakdancing kid and his little brother are in a bad situation, with big brother being the bad influence and a shitty home to boot. But that’s tangential to Honey. She’s a nice person but has no real stake in that story. So what’s the conflict? From the beginning, I thought Katrina would play a larger role in the story, but she hasn’t shown up since that first scene. I thought Michael would end up dialing up the sleaze (and I think he still will) but we have 39 minutes to go and he hasn’t done that yet. So right now, for Honey, this is a story of a girl who is getting everything she dreamed of in an incredibly compressed span of time. That is NOT good storytelling. If you want to tell a story, make sure you include some conflict, particularly for your main protagonist. And maybe give that person a flaw or two to make them relatable. Okay, unpausing.
Chaz and Honey make out in the barbershop at the end of the heartfelt conversation scene.
We get a lousy transition. Oh, and now we see Honey with a pug dog. I don’t think we’ve seen this dog before. So that’s. . . . weird. She sees a property for sale and writes down the address. She puts down half of a down payment. She envisions opening a dance school for the neighborhood.
Michael makes Honey cancel her plans to go to Atlantic City so that she can attend a meeting. I’m betting this is the sequence in which she realizes she’s leaving her neighborhood behind and that she doesn’t want that. Michael tells her it’ll be career suicide if she doesn’t go to the party because everyone will be there. So of course she gets dolled up and goes. And now we’re at a party with a lot of personalities that I don’t know.
Honey goes upstairs to make a call. Michael follows her up. Yeah, here comes sleazeball Michael. Fun times. Honey fights him off, Michael then gets upset, claiming she was leading him on. She leaves. Nothing really happens. And now we’re at the music video shoot. Honey is choreographing. Ginuwine is really into it. Honey’s heart ain’t in it though.
Michael shows up. As soon as it starts, he cuts and says the kid thing is horrible. Ah, and here comes Katrina. And Honey tries to get him to fire the kids himself, but of course he won’t do that because he’s king douche, and then she tells them it’s off and they’re like “Nothing good will ever happen to us” and she feels bad, so shitty breakdancing kid can go back to being a hood. So he does. Of course.
Honey has been blacklisted from dancing in videos because Michael has been talking against her. Honey is sad, not for herself but because she can’t get the money for the dance studio. Back to the hoods. We see shitty breakdancing kid acting as the dealer. Undercover cop grabs him and his crew runs. And we hear sad music play.
Honey now meets with her parents and her mother has plans for her to actually go and experience stuff, but Honey, being the selfless pure good character of goodness, wants to stay in the neighborhood. Oh, and Gina hates her now because her photo was in the paper of being at a party.
“It was everything I ever wanted, but when I got it it felt like nothing. Less than nothing. And when I lost it it was worse.” Wow. Honey is fucked up.
And with that, Gina and Honey are all better again. Conflict resolved. Again. Jeez.
Honey gets a bright idea — raise the money! Put on a benefit performance for the kids.
Chaz has the hookup on an old church. Maybe we’ll see a hokey group of Christians eating steak and cake and remodeling it.
Benefit preparation montage! The venue is conveniently ready at the end of a song. Then Honey goes to meet shitty breakdancing kid in the correctional facility. He acts shitty to her. Because he’s shitty not just at dancing, but at being a person.
Now we’re at Missy Elliott’s shoot and Missy ain’t havin’ it. She doesn’t want Katrina. She wants Honey. Michael is in a tough spot. So he offers to give Honey the money for the dance studio. Honey is standing up for her principles though.
Shitty breakdancing kid shows up despite his shit talk. Then he talks smack. People ooh and ahh over dance moves that are . . . uh. . . not at all special.
Benefit time! Everyone is showing up! Honey checks on every senior citizen to make sure they can see the show. Gina brings along the banker that Honey has been meeting with. Hey, guess what? THe banker works with patrons of non profits, and has invited them to the benefit.
Honey’s dad brings mom over to see the benefit. Honey’s mom is like a really watered down John Lithgow in Footloose. Apparently, mom didn’t know about the benefit beforehand. Weird.
Honey gives an emotional, dumb speech before the benefit performance. And she does it sincerely and purely because she’s a freakin’ faultless character.
Then we get a combination of ballet and breakdancing. Big dance sequence follows. Some good dancers in this, though the group choreography still seems pretty mundane to me. But the individual performances are good.
Oh hey, shitty mom is in the audience, and she’s happy to see her boys dancing. Must be her turning point.
Shitty breakdancing kid is still shitty. And then we get TAP DANCING!
Also, I never noticed the sequence that they worked on earlier incorporated in the dance.
Anyway, it’s a big hit, so that means the mean developer can’t bulldoze down the ski lodge. Or whatever the fuck was supposed to happen.
Kinda impressive that Honey herself doesn’t participate in the dance at all. Sort of a bold move, I guess. Or you could argue that by having Honey not participate it’s right in line with the fact that she never had a whole lot of conflict going on.
I think Missy Elliott just showed up. She then gives her driver an earful for making her late. Then we get credits. And now some credits sequenced.
Now we see Missy introducing Honey to the group Blaque. And we see Honey choreograph, like, three moves and then it’s the music video. Kinda sad to see this, actually, as Blaque was from Atlanta, Georgia and by this time the group had been pretty much off the charts for a couple of years, and in 2012 Natina Reed, the rapper of the group, was struck by a car and killed. Obviously all of that has nothing to do with this movie but it did make me sad to see this at the end.
Either Eric or Iyaz is reading this and they think Jonathan is awesome and that Comcast is worse than a shitty breakdancing kid.