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1 item from 2004

You Got Served

20 February 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »


Friday, Jan. 30

Assembling this vehicle for his young clients, music producer/manager/video director Christopher B. Stokes has attached an anemic plot to a series of dynamic hip-hop dance sequences. The target audience of young MTV watchers, in particular fans of R&B acts B2K and IMx, might overlook the dramatic weaknesses of You Got Served and buy into the protagonists' dreams of fame, fortune and showbiz salvation. Moderate boxoffice returns are in store before the dance-off to home video.

Writer-director Stokes wastes no time getting down to business, with a rousing credits-sequence dance battle between two crews. Cheered on by kids packed to the rafters in a Los Angeles warehouse, the troupes vying for the $600 prize display outstanding athleticism in their aggressive, witty style of street dancing. Refereeing the competitions is Mr. Rad (Steve Harvey), who dispenses prize money and fatherly advice.

The leaders of the winning crew, best friends Elgin (Marques Houston of IMx) and David (Omari Grandberry, aka Omarion, formerly of hip-hop group B2K), have their sights on the big time. So when they receive a $5,000 challenge from Orange County, Calif., rich boy Wade (Christopher Jones), they go for it, even if they and their crew (played by Jarell Houston, DeMario Thornton and Dreux Frederic, the remaining members of B2K) have to pool everything they have.

After withstanding betrayals and threats from outside, the two friends come to blows when David starts dating Elgin's younger sister, Liyah (Jennifer Freeman of ABCs My Wife and Kids). The brooding, protective Elgin, who considers David a player, stops speaking to both of them, and as the plot rounds a few melodramatic turns, the two friends form separate crews for a high-stakes MTV contest, the Big Bounce, which carries a prize of $50,000 and the chance to dance in a Lil' Kim video.

For all its upbeat aphorisms about self-respect, perseverance and loyalty, Stokes' script has a curiously neutral take on the shady dealings of Emerald (Michael Bear Taliferro), who operates an unspecified business from a smoky bar, with David and Elgin freelancing for him as couriers. It's clear that the backpacks they transport aren't full of Girl Scout cookies. Their reluctance to continue working for Emerald, counterbalanced by their ambitions and their families' needs, is presented in a refreshing matter-of-fact way, although the plot strand is tied up far too neatly.

Though the film is filled with supporting roles straight out of central casting -- the mouthy best girlfriend (Meagan Good), the feisty grandmother (Esther Scott), the eager young mascot Malcolm David Kelley) -- the cast generally drives home the cliche-ridden themes with heart. Real-life brothers Houston and Grandberry are especially charismatic, playing off their characters' contrasting intensity and playfulness.

With its competitive edge, Served offers a more hardcore look at hip-hop dance than the recent Honey. And though its dance battles become repetitive, Stokes and choreographers Dave Scott and Shane Sparks, supported by DP David Hennings, editor Earl Watson, an able design team and a pounding soundtrack, fashion a suitably climactic five-minute showdown to close the story.


Screen Gems

The Ultimate Group Films in association with Melee Entertainment


Director-writer: Christopher B. Stokes

Producers: Marcus Morton, Cassius Vernon Weathersby, Billy Pollina

Executive producers: Ketrina "Taz" Askew, Max Gousse

Director of photography: David Hennings

Production designer: Maxine Shepard

Music: Tyler Bates

Costume designer: Ca-Trece Mas'sey

Editor: Earl Watson

Choreographers: Dave Scott, Shane Sparks


Elgin: Marques Houston

David: Omari Grandberry

Rico: Jarell Houston

Vick: DeMario Thornton

Rashaan: Dreux Frederic

Liyah: Jennifer Freeman

Lil' Kim: Herself

Emerald: Michael Bear Taliferro

Beautifull: Meagan Good

Mr. Rad: Steve Harvey

Wade: Christopher Jones

Alani La La Vasquez: Herself

Lil' Saint: Malcolm David Kelley

Grandma: Esther Scott

Running time -- 94 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 »

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1 item from 2004

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