Battle of the Year

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battle of the yearI saw in the USA Today that critic Scott Bowles said about this movie, “A frenetic mess that makes Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo look like a Fellini film.”

It was such a great line I had to use it to start off my review.

This film has something that most movies don’t have – bad acting. Even movies that are terrible usually have decent performances from the actors involved. The product placements in this are also noticeably ridiculous.

The problem with this film is it will only appeal to a specific demographic: a 12-year-old b-boy dancer (break dancing) in a wheelchair that doesn’t own a computer. Otherwise, you’d be out with your crew popping-and-locking, or watching this footage online. No need to see it in 3D, in a way that’s edited so sloppily that you can’t even appreciate the amazing athleticism involved.

I’m not a dancer (although I can do the robot like nobody’s business), but I can appreciate a good dance scene. It was fun watching John Travolta twist with Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, or him dancing with Cha-Cha in Grease. It was great to see Jon Favreau cut a rug in Swingers. Yet these dances sequences flat out sucked. The first one we see uses the big band classic Sing Sing Sing, and I thought that would be promising. Nope. And it never gets better.

San Diegan Caity Lotz (a Lindsay Lohan lookalike) is brought in to choreograph the crew.  She spouts off some tough talk, like Goldie Hawn in that movie where she’s the football coach. After that one scene in the gym with the dancers, she disappears. We catch glimpses of her applauding during the final competition, but that’s it.

I thought she may have been the love interest for Josh Holloway (Lost). He’s an alcoholic who is paid a visit from Laz Alonso. They were in a dance crew back in the day, and he knows Holloway was an inspirational basketball coach. He gives him that pep talk about cleaning up, and to stop grieving over his dead wife and kid. “They aren’t coming back,” he tells him. Ouch.

Holloway stays unshaven, and brings the dancers to an old prison to train. Watching him with his flask, 5 o’clock shadow, and black ski cap…I kept thinking of Nicholson in One Few Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Holloway never does quit drinking. It’s strange when this movie uses about 50 different clichés from previous sports movies, that they left that one out. He’s even enjoying champagne at the end of the movie (wait, was a SPOILER ALERT needed there?).

There are a few other thoughts I had while watching this crappy movie. Since Alonso is a Puff Daddy type of character, that owns this music/media/merchandise empire that relies on hip-hop and that culture, his motives behind all this are horrible. He doesn’t care about his former friend cleaning up his act after losing his wife. And even though he claims to be furious about the USA losing the B-boy dance competitions in France each year to the Koreans – it’s not patriotic, either. It’s all about business.

Once we meet all these losers and hear their petty squabbles, why would we root for them? Because we are in the United States? I’m guessing most of you didn’t root for the military crews from Earth to win against the peaceful aliens in Avatar, just because you’re human. I was sitting there hoping the Koreans would stay champs. I might have rooted for the Germans, but since the movie purposely made jokes about two Jewish guys on the USA team, I thought that could get ugly. Of course, like everything else in the movie, the assistant coach (Josh Peck) being Jewish is brought up only for a quick Jew joke (“My people were not chosen for dance skills; all our swag gets snipped at the circumcision).

The nicknames of the USA crew are also rather confusing: Rooster, Sniper, Rebel, Grifter, and Mayhem. They sound like the pilots in Top Gun.

Rooster is played by rapper and woman beater Chris Brown. At least they appropriately have him wearing a wife beater much of the time.

It baffles me that he still gets jobs in Hollywood. Does anyone care that he physically assaulted Rhianna?   Looking at his ugly face and horrible attitude, had me rooting even harder for the Koreans. As luck would have it, he gets injured before the big competition and can’t fly to France. Perhaps that’s part of the probation he got in real life.

This movie has the laziest kind of storytelling imaginable. It has one-dimensional characters, goofy training montages, and that puts it squarely on my list of worst movies this year.

Jimmy Kimmel and David Letterman sometimes do a bit when the President or an Oscar winner gives a speech. If they say a certain word numerous times, they’ll play the entire speech quickly, with a bell going off each time that word is said. At the end, they tally it up.

I’d love for them to do that with this movie and ring the bell each time a sports cliché is uttered out of the coach’s mouth.

“There’s no ‘I’ in team.”


I was tempted to give this movie at least half a star, for the scene where Chris Brown is punched in the face; but since that isn’t a real punch, I’ll stick with giving this movie 0 out of 5 stars.


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