‘Battle of the Year’ trots out the usual B-Boy cliches

  • By Roger Moore McClatchy-Tribune News Service
  • Wednesday, September 18, 2013 3:39pm
  • LifeGo-See-DoMovies

Dance battle movies — “Step Up” and its ilk — have become the musicals of their generation.

They may be formulaic in the extreme, generic in their romances and be peopled by character “types.” But they’re athletic extravaganzas celebrating great skill and the art of B-Boys and B-Girls.

They may wear the veneer of “street” and “edgy,” but parents appreciate how harmless they are.

“Battle of the Year” touches on that, how the rest of the world has embraced B-Boy culture, but how they’re no longer perceived as cutting edge or “cool” in the United States.

That worries the Sean Combs-like impresario, Dante (Laz Alonso).

“How long before hip-hop isn’t cool?”

He’s got to protect his music, dance and fashion empire by putting American B-Boys back on top. He hires an old dance buddy, W.B. (for “Wonder Bread”), now a grieving, alcoholic ex-basketball coach (Josh Holloway of “Lost”).

W.B. has to get himself up to speed on the current state of dance, then recruit and coach a “dream team” of the best of America’s best to take on the rest of the world, which has passed America by and long dominated the annual B-Boy Olympics known as “BOTY,” the Battle of the Year.

That team consists of assorted arrogant, chip-on-their-shoulder show-offs, because that’s what it takes to succeed at this. Actual star dancers such as Do Knock and Flipz are mixed in with others, including singer Chris Brown.

And helping out coach is Jewish hip-hop authority “Franklyn with a Y,” played by Josh Peck. He doesn’t dance himself. He’s Jewish, he explains.

But there are Jewish B-Boys. And combat vet B-Boys and gay B-Boys, all of whom try out for the team. They fight, they insult one another, they learn from a choreographer (Caity Lotz), they bond and you know the rest.

The director of the definitive documentary on the worldwide phenomenon, “Planet B-Boy,” co-wrote and directed this, and immodestly has characters watch that film and sing its praises. Very B-Boy of him.

The beauty of “Step Up” and all its tired imitators is that the audience they’re shooting for has no idea that there have been 20 or 30 movies exactly like this one that came before it.

“Battle of the Year” (2 stars)

Another in a long line of the “musicals of the day”: dance battles. An impresario played by Laz Alonso works to keep his B-Boy team relevant. With Josh Peck, Caity Lotz, Chris Brown, Josh Holloway.

Rated: PG-13 for language, rude behavior.

Showing: Alderwood 7, Everett Stadium, Marysville, Pacfific Place, Thornton Place.

More in Life

Beer and cupcakes: Snohomish brewer, baker form unlikely duo

Pacific Northwest Cupcakes uses SnoTown’s brews to make beer-infused sweet treats.

The art and science of weathervanes

They told the direction of the wind and aided in forecasting the, well, weather.

Hundreds of ways to pamper your home and yourself

Find fancy fridges to sparkling jewelry under one roof at home and gift shows in Everett.

This is exactly how a cleaning expert organizes her space in 20 minutes

Try these realistic and attainable tricks to land yourself a cleaner home.

Snohomish brewer flavors beer with chilies from mom’s back yard

Beer of the Week: Smoked rye forms sturdy foundation for SnoTown’s well-balanced Loose Rooster.

Fall is just another blooming season

October can be a time of spectacular colors in your garden.

Woodward Canyon Winery continues to weave masterpieces

Owner Rick Small uses grapes from vines he used when he made wine in his back yard in the 1970s.

Music in the mountains: ‘It’s a weather-dependant hobby’

Anastasia Allison of the Musical Mountaineers reflects on making music at the summits.

Great Plant Pick: Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo,’ purple-leaf ninebark

Grow it with shrub roses and perennials, and it combines with with ornamental grasses.

Most Read