Dances with lulls

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews -

JESSICA ALBA doesn’t stop by the hood much any more. And even if she did she’d prob­a­bly man­age more gain­ful em­ploy­ment than Honey 2. This be­lated, half­hearted se­quel never prop­erly ex­plains where the ti­tle star of the 2003 hip-hop­per has gone. She lingers on as a char­ac­ter name, a photo by the TV and by as­so­ci­a­tion. But that’s just the way this lowrent dance flick rolls.

Step­ping into an Alba-sized chasm, Vam­pire Diaries star­let and some­time Black Eyed Pea Ka­te­rina Graham struts her stuff as a Bronx boo just try­ing to make her way. Re­leased

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from ju­vie with a new taste for step­ping out, Not Honey must avoid fall­ing back in with her old crew, her no-good ex-boyfriend and her old life.

If only there was some way to neatly over­come all these ob­sta­cles. If only there was a dance con­test that would al­low her to get back at her crooked co­hort of old, take home $100,000 and start over as a frou-frou-la-la Euro­pean chore­og­ra­pher. Hang on . . . what did that com­mer­cial just say?

Be­fore you can bust a move and de­clare “it’s on”, Graham has hon­oured the weed­i­est of all hip-hop fran­chises by as­sem­bling a mis­fit col­lec­tive largely pop­u­lated by the bland­est peo­ple on Earth. Be­fore you can add “You’ve been served, ai­ight?” the hero­ine is tour­ing New York arm in arm with a white-bread love in­ter­est and tak­ing notes on mime, bal­let and tango. Will it be enough to take down the mono­lithic 718 crew on a fake ver­sion of Mario Lopez’s Amer­ica’s Best Dance Crew?

The en­tire cast is soon serv­ing or get­ting served as this for­mu­laic Step Up clone strug­gles to­ward its in­evitable de­noue­ment. The fa­mil­iar­ity of the ma­te­rial is for­giv­able; the dull pre­sen­ta­tion is not. Rosero McCoy’s chore­og­ra­phy is plenty en­er­getic but is con­sis­tently un­der­mined by fast cuts and the cosi­ness of the hip-hop fairy tale.

Lack­ing ei­ther the jouis­sance and spec­ta­cle of Step Up 3D or the dar­ing bump and grind of How She Move, Honey 2 and its sup­posed ur­ban smarts wouldn’t cut it on Se­same Street. It’s on, all right, but no­body’s home.

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