You Got Served
Elgin (Marques Houston) and David (Omari Grandberry) have some fancy steps for navigating life in their LA 'hood. Street dancing is their religion, an activity that takes up every moment of their day, while they practice and plan for frequent meetings at Mr. Rad's (Stevve Harvey) dance club. There, amongst the barren warehouse surroundings, crews from the community converge in a boxing-like ring for a battle of steps, spins, and other incredible moves.
At the end of the dancing duel, Mr. Rad holds up a hat with a few hundred dollars wadded up inside. He then asks the audience for their opinion. Thanks to Elgin's creative choreography and David's massive moves, the boys and their other dance brothers usually garner the loudest praise and take home the dough until Wade (Christopher Jones) comes to town.
The rich kid from Orange County and his crew peg the applause-o-meter in their favor after dancing against Elgin and David's gang. But losing the take from Mr. Rad's cap is just enough to start an all-out dance war. A few days later Elgin is presented with the ultimate challenge from the suburbanites: Each side will put up five thousand dollars and meet back at Mr. Rad's to see who takes home the loot.
Scraping the cash together presents some problems for Elgin who has assumed his absent father's responsibility of taking care of the household and putting his sister Liyah (Jennifer Freeman) through medical school. (The girl is foremost on David's mind too, as he becomes more infatuated with her.) With a strong desire to show these guys who the real dancers are, Elgin and David turn to their "part time job" of delivering mysterious parcels for a shady club owner called Emerald, as well as a loan from Elgin's grandmother, to get the money.
However, consequences begin to rain from the sky when the overly-protective older brother discovers the growing relationship between his sister and David, and mounting financial concerns force the duo to consider the real cost of working for someone who never asks for a Social Security number.
Artistically, the acting performances from these real-life musicians and dancers are weak (many are current or former members of B2K). Essentially a musical, be prepared for a thin plot to frame the obligatory--but truly incredible--dance scenes. If you can stand the music (which I personally find barely tolerable), the moves these guys and gals do are captivating and nothing short of astounding. One dancer spins and contorts himself into positions of a Cirque du Soleil nature, while others defy the law of gravity.
For parents, the greatest concern may be the secondary promotion of artists whose real life performances may not meet your family's standards, and an unrealistic intervention that removes most of the serious consequences for the boys' poor judgment and wagering behavior.
Yet, considering the rebellious attitudes associated with this activity, it was a pleasant surprise to see this culture depicted with only a scant number of profanities, little sexual dialogue, and limited violence. The film even depicts these guys coming together to offer a respectful prayer before their big dance. In fact, efforts to convey moral messages about friendship and forgiveness are almost too overt--better performances could have allowed for subtler dialogue, making the film more valid. All in all, You Got Served manages to dance up a storm without causing too much damage.