‘Beat’ lacks slammin’ script

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:19 AM ET

As much as we may "front" and "throw it down," there really are no new stories. Just, hopefully, competently told old ones in new wrapping. Or rapping.

Which is why a silly hip-hop dance-crew drama like Beat the World -- in which Brazil, Germany and Canada are revealed to be the three funkiest nations in the world, yo! -- does not just feel old-school. It just feels old.

There's the soapy Romeo & Juliet/two different worlds trope, in which high-class valedictorian Maya (Mishael Morgan) is on her way to a brilliant career. But can her love for homey Yuson (Tyrone Brown) survive, given that Yuson is staking his future on the dubious rewards of the hip-hop dance-crew world. Conversely, as he busts a move, is he losing sight of what's important?

There's the I-owe-money-to-a-gangster plot motivator. Somewhere in the favelas of Rio, Carlos (Shane Pollard) puts his whole dance crew's cash on the home team in a soccer game between Brazil and the U.S. Who knew?

There's the unbeatable enemy, in this case a blond, pasty-faced German named Eric (Christian Loclair), who is supposed to be the leader of the world's champion dance crew, but can't even seem to move the muscles in his face.

Add the incongruous element of the rooftop-to-rooftop artform parkour -- which doesn't exactly harken back to Shakespeare, but is kind of five minutes ago -- and you have a movie so ostentatiously "street" it's as if a committee of youth culture marketers took different hot-button plot points and pasted them onto the story.

Actually, the story comes from director Robert Adetuyi, who cut his teeth creatively writing for Road to Avonlea (not kidding), but in recent years has made his name writing Stomp the Yard and the unforgettable Cedric The Entertainer movie Code Name: The Cleaner.

Beat the World (originally conceived as a sequel to 2004's You Got Served) is promoted as the first parkour/hip-hop movie, but the former aspect seems tacked on. It's Yuson's big idea to hire a "free-run" pro named Justin (Chase Armitage) to inject that extra something in their routine -- to the chagrin of Yuson's clownish best friend Easy (Ray Johnson), who objects to a white boy telling them what to do.

But after the throw-down and the respect, parkour doesn't seem to add much to Yuson's routine except people jumping over people, and a brick wall backdrop to run up against.

There's other stuff. Scheming Cherry (ex-Raptors Dance Pak girl Nikki Grant) wants to break up Yuson and Maya. Eric turns out to get his best moves from a female "crew" member who wants her props.

But Beat the World eventually has to focus somewhere -- and that somewhere is on Yuson and Maya -- which means some pretty silly loose ends (to say nothing of the fact that Brown's line-readings are so monotone and off, they all sound like single-takes).

At least the dancin' is slammin'. For those to whom this means anything, real-life crews include Brazil's Pink Ladies, the USA's Sho-Tyme and Japan's Gogo Brothers. Maybe this would've made a better documentary.

jim.slotek@sunmedia.ca

 


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