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Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (rewatch?)

Posted by martinteller on May 25, 2014

Let’s just get this out of the way: enough with the “____ 2: Electric Boogaloo” jokes.  It was silly and slightly clever the first dozen times, but that horse has been beaten to death.  Thankfully, I haven’t heard much of it lately, but every now and then someone dusts it off.  After you’ve heard it 1000 times, it just sounds lazy.

Okay, that’s done.  I remember being a young lad and watching at least one of the Breakin’ movies on rented VHS, but I can’t be entirely sure I’ve seen this before.  I suspect I only watched the first one, because nothing here rang any particular bells.  We also didn’t preface this viewing with the first movie, although fear not: you can jump right into the sequel without getting lost.  Kelly “Special K” (Lucinda Dickey) is auditioning for a dance role in Paris, against the wishes of her uptight wealthy parents (John Christy Ewing, Jo De Winter) who would prefer she went to Princeton.  Kelly goes to visit her old dancing partners, Ozone (Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones) and Turbo (Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers).  They’re running the community center “Miracles”, but a slick businessman (Peter MacLean) wants the property to build a shopping center.  He arranges to have the building condemned.  Now the crew needs to raise $200,000 for repairs and they only have a month to do it.  On top of that, there’s the rival dance gang Electro-Rock to contend with, and jealous Rhonda (Susie Coelho) doesn’t appreciate Kelly hanging around Ozone.

It’s a plot as old as the hills, going back at least to the 30’s and all those Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland “backyard musicals”.  Kids in trouble put on a show to save the whatever.  It’s certainly not original storytelling… nor is it especially well-told.  A lot of stock archetypes and deus ex machina and paper-thin characters.  And it’s a squeaky-clean depiction of the hip-hop scene and impoverished urban communities, a sanitized version of the grittier version seen in Wild Style from the previous year (which also ends with “putting on a big show”).

But it is a lot of ridiculous fun.  Breakdancing can pretty much do anything… it can settle gang disputes, it can build bridges between the exploited and the exploiters, it can even cure injuries and bring back the dead!  There’s a rather charming scene where Ozone teaches Turbo the basics of romance, and they waltz with a dummy who is envisioned — in a dizzying series of edits — as both Kelly and Turbo’s love interest Lucia (Sabrina Garcia).  Also a nice homage to Fred Astaire’s gravity-defying dance in Royal Wedding, and one that actually ups the ante with more camera angles and viewpoints, and even an extra participant.  As corny and cliché-ridden as the movie is, I can’t honestly say there’s a dull moment.

Granted, the acting isn’t very good… but it really isn’t all that bad, either.  Likewise, the soundtrack isn’t the greatest, but it does include (twice) the infectious club hit “Din Daa Daa”.  The dancing is the real highlight, and is done with such earnest gusto that you get swept up in the absurdity (don’t most musicals traffic in the absurd anyway?).  And you can delight in the fashion, whether it’s Ozone’s endless supply of half-shirts or the ubiquitous handcuff belts (I noticed a lot of chains as well… it’s interesting how the fashion co-opts the tools of oppression and slavery).  Predictable?  Yes.  Laughable?  Yep, sometimes.  Fun?  You betcha.  Rating: Good (73)

IMDb
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