Saturday, June 14, 2014

Battle of the Year

Directed by Benson Lee.
2013. Rated PG-13, 110 minutes.
Josh Holloway
Laz Alonso
Chris Brown
Josh Peck
Ivan "Flipz" Velez
Jon "Do Knock" Cruz
Jesse "Casper" Brown
Sawandi Wilson
Richard Maguire
Caity Lotz

I love the women in my life. My wife is still the apple of my eye. My two daughters take turns wrapping me around their fingers. It only makes sense that I would say yes and plop my ass on the couch when begged asked to watch Battle of the Year with them. This is pretty much how I've seen every dance movie they could get their hands on over the last decade. Will I ever learn? Probably not.

So what's going on with this one?

Glad you asked. It's like this:

Every year, Paris hosts "Battle of the Year." It's an international b-boying competition, or break dancing contest forthe unhip, featuring teams from around the globe. A team representing the good o'l U.S. of A. has not won in a dozen years. Dante (Alonso), the super rich multi-media mogul who sponsors the team, decides its time to shake things up. He reaches out to Jason (Holloway), one of his old homies from around the way, to coach this year's squad. Jason is not super rich or a multi-media mogul. He's a reclusive drunk whose been drowning his sorrows in a bottle ever since his wife and son died in a car wreck. He reluctantly takes the job on the condition that he be allowed to do it "his way." Dancing and arguing ensues.

Why the arguing?

It's simple, really. When Jason shakes things up, he really shakes things up. After one look at last year's team, he kicks them all to the curb and decides to hold a mass audition. Once he's picked  the best twenty-something dancers, he takes them to what looks like an abandoned college dormitory from fifty years ago where he works the dog crap out of them in the name of molding them into a team. Of course, there's a catch. There are nine weeks left until "Battle of the Year." Each week, our drunken dance coach will send one of the boys packing.

Hmm...where have I heard of such a format before?

Oh yeah, every reality TV competition ever.

Okay, boys and girls. It's time to run down the sports dance movie movie checklist!

Drunken coach? Check. We covered this.

Overbearing team owner? Check. Literally, in the very next scene after agreeing to let Jason coach "his way," Dante starts bitching about how Jason is coaching. Asshole.

Supremely talented, but selfish superstar? Check. This guy is played by Chris Brown, a real life supremely talented, but selfish superstar. Seriously, of all the celebrities, he's the most perplexing to me. The dude is a great, I mean a GREAT dancer, and an aiight singer. On the other hand, what I know of him as a person screams spoiled brat that I would not want to be in the same room with. Hey, that's exactly like his character! Should be easy playing a version of yourself, right? Well, Chris Brown is a great, I mean GREAT dancer. Not so much on the acting.

Game-changing injury to said superstar? I would say check, but I don't want to spoil anything.

Lots of in-fighting while our boys grow as a team? Check. Basically, it's like one of those "Real Housewives" show with less hair and makeup. Just to ensure that's the case we get enough different types together. We already mentioned the superstar. There's also his rival from the neighborhood. Then we have the gay dude, the guy who hates gay dudes, and so on.

Awe inspiring sports dance scenes? Check. This is the one thing Battle of the Year has going for it. Literally. the dance scenes are kinetic and acrobatic. They're fun to watch even though it appears the frame rate has been sped up for these. Or, do I mean slowed down? I forget how that works. Whatever. The moves look too fast.

Wait...what am I doing? Praising something about this movie? Let's get back to our regularly scheduled program. Let's talk about the acting. It's not universally bad, but the people asked to do the most acting are just not good. Exempting Chris Brown from the conversation, let's move on to the others. The rest of the dancers were as bad as Mr. Brown or worse. Laz Alonso was pretty good, but continuing to speak about that doesn't fit my movie bashing agenda so let's move on to Josh Holloway. He's that odd kind of bad. He's really into it, and is arguably a better actor than anyone else in the cast. The problem is he's so miscast I don't believe a single word out of his mouth. There is no way I can roll with the idea that this guy was a former b-boy with legendary battle wins under his belt. I'm guessing Channing Tatum, or Columbus Short were both busy...or got a look at the script and chose wisely. I wish I had.

Damn family.


  1. Nice review on Battle of the Year, your score seems fair, i also don't like this film much....

    1. Thanks. It's a movie that just fails repeatedly until it ends.