This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, I picked “You Got Served.”
The Movie: “You Got Served”
Starring: Omarion Grandberry, J-Boog, Raz B, Steve Harvey
Director: Chris Stokes
Plot Summary: (From IMDB)
In order to achieve their dream of opening a recording studio, two friends (Omarion, Houston) must first win their city’s dance contest — a fierce competition that pits them against a group of tough street dancers.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 16 percent
Froemming: There has been one major element of film missing in the JOE-DOWN. One that has been a classic staple of movies since the dawn of their existence. One that put Gene Kelly on the map.
So I decided on a film where inner city youths let out some steam by aggressively dancing at one another to censored hip-hop music in hopes of winning money out of Steve Harvey’s hat (yes, this happens). I chose “You Got Served,” a film that is probably more remembered from the “South Park” parody of it than the actual film itself.
Brown, last week I got served with “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” Now I am serving you with “You Got Served.”
I guess this means — it’s on.
Brown: It’s… it’s not on.
Froemming: Oh, it’s most definitely on!
Brown: It’s not on.
So, this movie was like taking a time warp to my junior year of high school. And it wasn’t a pleasant one, with all the blonde tips and generic hip-hop.
Yeah, this is not a movie that aged well. It’s definitely a window into an extremely short period of time that has no tangible plot. It’s the dance version of the old “Fast and the Furious” movies before everyone was like, “(REDACTED) it, we’re going crazy! Let’s drive safes through Brazil and have submarine chases!”
So while I’m busy thinking of our dance group’s name, get us started, Froemming.
Froemming: Set in LA, we meet our leads during a dance competition at a warehouse owned and run by a man named Mr. Rad, which should be setting off all sorts of red flags for these youths. The whole beginning of this film is young people doing crazy dancing that made me realize just how untalented I truly am in the art of dance. And right away, I knew we were in for a treat because the hip-hop music is censored, giving odd breaks in the lyrics because this is a PG-13 film, thus no F-bombs of any kind.
Brown: I legit had to check if I was watching MTV or not. This start of this movie is four minutes of credits and dancing. And yeah, the censored music only adds to my MTV theory. Though, the N-word gets thrown around a few times, so, you know, sketchy PG-13 there, guys.
Froemming: Joke’s on you, MTV has not played a music video or music at all for at least a decade.
Brown: Oh, I know. I’ll bring that up when we get to the climax of this film.
Froemming: Our team is lead by two buddies, David and Elgin. The teams put up money, each ponying up half of the purse, and the winner takes the cash — out of Mr. Rad’s hat.
Look, seeing this made me wonder if this was going to be one of those “Very Special” episodes on the dangers of creepy old men that were popular in the 1980s.
Now, to make such cash (the team splits the $600 they win among all 30 team members I believe) David and Elgin moonlight as drug runners for some dude named Emerald. Though not explicitly stated it is drugs, decades of “Law & Order” has conditioned me to know such lingo.
Brown: That drove me nuts. Yes, it’s implied they’re dealing drugs, which bums me out with a predominantly black cast. But nothing is resolved from it. Later in the movie, Elgin will get robbed and there’s a shot of someone looking down on him afterwards… and it doesn’t get resolved. And to really fast-forward, later, when Elgin owes Emerald a bunch of money (we’re not told the amount), Mr. Rad just pays him off, no problem.
And this isn’t the only storyline they use to try and ratchet up fake drama.
It’s the biggest problem with this movie: They haphazardly inserted plot to incorporate a “story” into 90 minutes of dancing.
Seriously, why are we discussing plot? There is none!
Froemming: Don’t forget, their teammate Sonny betrays them, and they vow revenge and…that too just goes away into the aether.
Now, in the middle of all this impressive dancing (I will snark heavily on the dumb plot of this film, but the dance moves are truly breathtaking), after the long night of “drug dealing,” David becomes quite smitten by Elgin’s sister, Liyah, because we need to force a romance into this empty void that is loosely called a “plot.” She makes David coffee, even though her mother clearly told her to make the boys breakfast and last time I checked, coffee isn’t a meal.
David walks her to her work, and Elgin somewhat jokingly warns him to stay away from his sister. But, as we see, he isn’t really joking.
Now, in a film that came out at the dawn of YouTube, I was shocked to see that David and Englin get challenged by some rich kids in Orange County via VHS! Seriously, wasn’t VHS long dead by 2004? These kids are wealthy, at least send your challenge via DVD.
Brown: Nothing threatens the aggressive dance scene like white dudes with spiky bleached hair and knock-off basketball jerseys that look like the Juggalos wouldn’t even take them in.
So, it’s on… a week from now. Until our bad white boys, who repeatedly tell our heroes (?) they can pick the place and time, challenge them that very night.
So, pride cometh before the fall. Sonny leaves the crew and helps out Wade’s crew (which is the only name we get for our “bad” dancers).
God, this plot is even dumber as we type it out.
One aside I want to mention: Want to date your movie? Have your characters wear sports jerseys. Seeing basketball jerseys for players I remember playing with on Nintendo 64, like Michael Finley and Kenyon Martin, kind of takes me out of a film.
Froemming: But David and Englin need to find their $5,000 for the purse. They have about $3,500 between them, which made me jealous because I wish I had that kind of money in the bank, and I have a real job.
She decides to give her grandson $1,500, which again made me wish I had such money just lying around. I really need to get my finances together.
Brown: I thought you related to the Grandma because she has the gout just like you did.
Froemming: That (REDACTED) is the most terrible pain I have ever experienced. So yeah, I had a lot of sympathy toward her.
Brown: And I’ll admit, I thought when Elgin went to go to his grandma that he was going to sell a bunch of weed to her, sort of like when Willie Nelson gets weed in “Half-Baked.”
So, it’s time. To. Bring it. The warehouse (which is full despite this competition being set hours ago and inexplicably has a wrestling ring in the middle of it) hosts Elgin and David’s crew against Wade’s crew. And with Sonny in the mix, Wade’s crew wipes the floor with our heroes by using their own moves against them.
We watched “Bring It On” again, didn’t we? But, instead of everyone dressed as cheerleaders, every dancer looks like Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez.
Froemming: Sonny betrays his friends and we never see him again in this film. Not even later on in Wade’s crew. In Orwellspeak, he became a non-person.
The team is so angry they try to fight Wade’s crew, and I don’t blame them. Wade looks like a young, skinny Guy Fieri and I immediately wanted to punch him when I saw that dumb hairstyle of his, which is a mix of Fieri and Tweak from “South Park.”
But Mr. Rad and his LAPD buddy is having none of this. He tells David and Elgin that they got their asses handed to them, but they should see it as a learning experience. So, rich Orange County kids win. Poor inner city kids lose. Is this the era when America was great in our president’s eyes?
Now, Elgin owes his grandma that $1,500 and he and David need to sell more drugs, because the vicious cycle never seems to end and this film is almost about how much (REDACTED) can Elgin go through before he finally snaps. They arrange to meet at Emerald’s place. But because we need some friction, David goes on a date with Elgin’s sister as Elgin gets a call from Emerald that he needs the two to show up early.
On the date, Liyah turns off David’s phone and they apparently spend about six hours eating dinner.
Brown: A couple things to digest here.
Seriously, it was bright and sunny when David and Liyah went on their date. I think the longest I’ve spent at a diner with someone was two, three hours? But it feels like they are there from dawn ‘til dusk.
Next, in a movie filled with just sub-par acting, Liyah is the worst one, right?
Froemming: Without a doubt. Though this is the first romance story in a long while here at the JOE-DOWN where I didn’t fear for one’s life.
Brown: I feared for Elgin’s life because his friend can’t realize when the sun sets, it’s getting kind of close to 10 p.m., which is when they needed to meet with Emerald.
Also, did it bug you as much as it bugged me that when Liyah and, really, anyone in Elgin’s life finds out he was running for Emerald they aren’t like “Why did you go down that path?” They’re just like, “OK, get your money.” Old-ass Polaroid cameras invest more in development than this movie ever did for its characters.
Froemming: Maybe they realize that sometimes how one makes their money is none of their (REDACTED) business.
Brown: If I have a relative making money from someone named Emerald, I’m asking questions. That’s just me, though.
Froemming: Anyway, while David and his date are really going all-in on this all-you-can-eat-buffet (it’s the only explanation I can think of as to why they are there so long) Elgin goes it alone with a big package from Emerald, and gets jacked in a seedy apartment building. I mean, the poor guy gets really messed up by a bunch of seedy junkies. All the while, David is ignoring his phone and apparently has no sense of time.
Brown: I’ll make this fast.
Elgin is mad at David for ignoring him. Elgin calls his sister a bitch. Everyone’s mad. The crew’s breaking up because David’s in love. Some girl named Beautifull (Yep, two Ls) gives Liyah a hot cocoa because “Hot choco-latte makes the pain go away,” which is something NO ONE SAYS. Meanwhile, instead of going to physical rehab like he should, Elgin tries to recover his busted knee by doing crunches and bicep curls (which have NOTHING to do with one’s knee).
This movie is maddening.
Froemming: Physical rehab? This movie goes out of its way to show that Elgin is poor as (REDACTED).
Brown: His mom works. I imagine he’s still on her insurance. Graham-Cassidy and ACHA weren’t a factor in the world of 2004.
Froemming: Neither was health insurance for a lot of people at the time.
Yes, Elgin’s sister has become the Yoko to our dancin’ Beatles: She breaks up the band.
As all this is going on, one of group members befriends a child they call Lil’ Saint. As soon as I saw this child, I pretty much knew he was going to be dead by the end of the film. Also, the actor also played Walt on “Lost,” so I had a few chuckles here and there regarding this kid.
Now the crew has split into two different crews, with Elgin and David leading each. And to be honest, I don’t blame Elgin. David screwed him over and acts like the victim about it for the rest of the film.
Brown: I honestly didn’t care. There was nothing to get invested into in this movie. Who was right? Who was wrong? I just wanted it to end.
So all the dance crews in southern California catch wind of a dance competition that will pay $50,000 and will put the winning crew in a music video. This is determined as a life-changing thing for everyone.
So $50,000 is not a lot of money in itself. Then, you have to divide it for your whole crew of 10-20 people. So best case, you’re getting $5,000. And it’s a music video during the days of MTV where “The Osbournes” and “Real World” took over any time slots that used to show music videos. Congrats, you’ll become an MTV2 star?
And in Elgin’s case, considering the harm he seems to be in, $5,000 won’t get him out of Emerald’s crosshairs.
Did I mention this movie is stupid?
Froemming: Well, for these kids $50,000 is a lot of money. I can’t imagine the Orange County crew being all excited about that kind of cash, though. But alas, they are because why the (REDACTED) not?
Also, we soon learn that Mr. Rad has taken care of the debt Englin owes to Emerald, thus making that whole side story moot. Whomever wrote this script is somehow almost as bad at screenwriting as Tommy Wiseau.
But Mr. Rad won’t tell Englin because he wants the man to have the fightin’ spirit when competing for this music video opportunity. Sure. This doesn’t make any (REDACTED) sense.
Brown: This movie did reaffirm my love of ‘80s Adidas track suits. Also, Wade’s crew wears black jump suits, because they’re evil. Real subtle, movie. Also, they’re competing for a Lil’ Kim music video. Good for them. Still don’t care.
Oh, Lil’ Saint gets shot and dies. People are sad. I don’t care. There’s DANCING to do. And with a friend dead, God is now on the good guys’ side… or something like that.
So we get to the competition and it ends in… a tie. Between Wade’s crew and Elgin’s crew (named the Lil’ Saints, naturally).
So how do we solve this? Mr. Rad, who runs a local abandoned warehouse that just so happens to run a dance floor, bosses around Lil’ Kim, a world-renowned recording artist, into letting the two teams compete like they do “In the streets.”
Look, just because the Sharks and Jets fought like that in the streets doesn’t mean they still did that in 2004.
Oh, quick nitpick: Lil’ Kim tells the house DJ to start spinnin’ some music. Know what he does? He plays one (REDACTED) song the whole time. You’re as useful as an iPod shuffle, pal.
(REDACTED) you, movie.
Froemming: I was secretly hoping Mr. Rad would at one point name the wrong team as winner during a competition, because Steve Harvey and whatnot.
And we get a long, insane dance-off between the two teams. And guess what? With David now on the team because Lil’ Kim said “no rules.” And they somehow, at the last minute, figure out a well-choreographed routine that would probably take most teams years to get right.
Brown: I. Don’t. Care. Anymore.
David and Elgin are friends. David gets the girl. Lil’ Kim is there. A CHILD IS DEAD. Everything and nothing happened all at the same time.
This review is over. Let’s get to recommendations before I walk out on our crew.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Froemming: This movie was terrible. It also has a sequel, so if Brown tries to pull some (REDACTED) on me again, I have that.
Brown: No. Watch a dance performance on YouTube. It’ll take five minutes and the plot will be just as consequential.
Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down:
October is Halloween Month here at the JOE-DOWN!