Universal // 2004 // 94 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // June 25th, 2004
Her dream. Her terms.
For Brooklyn native Honey Daniels, dancing isn't just a hobby -- it's a lifestyle. Honey teaches a hip-hop dance class for inner city youths at her parents' studio, all the while dreaming of a way to show the world that she's got what it takes to be one of the best dancers anyone has ever seen. When Honey is spotted by a music video director (David Moscow, Just Married) in a local nightclub where she tends bar, Honey gets her shot at the big time as a dancer in one of his music videos. Suddenly all of Honey's dreams are coming true, but not without a price. Michael isn't what he seems (surprise!), and after his attempts at a come-on fail, Honey finds herself blacklisted in the music video business. But with the help of her new love interest Chaz (Mekhi Phifer, 8 Mile) and a street-tough kid (rapper turned actor Lil' Romeo), Honey is about to show everyone that good things come in small, energetic packages.
I'm not one to discuss my religious convictions in a movie review, but I feel the need to share with you my theory about Hell. My feelings are that those who end up there will be treated to horrible indignities, not the least of which will be watching a movie like Honey. In the afternoons, Celine Dion and Yanni will be pumped through the PA system while Battlefield Earth plays on an endless loop, but that's a different discussion for a different review.
Now, I know that I'm not this film's target audience. I'm a white suburbanite who likes Steve Miller and couldn't tell you the difference between 50 Cent and two quarters. That being said, Honey couldn't have moved me if it'd been a burrito smothered in Tabasco sauce and laxatives. The idea of the film -- always follow your dreams -- is one that has been played out countless times in far better movies.
The film features Jessica Alba (looking as if 1988 ate her up and spit her back out again) and her lips dancing provocatively to music that sounds tailor-made for the film's soundtrack. Along the way she reaches out to some inner-city kids (everyone with me...awwwww!) and attempts to become one of the best choreographers in the business. When Missy Elliot shows up to let the world know she wants Honey Daniels to choreograph her dance moves and no one else, well...let's just say I imagined the rapper heading to Universal's front desk to pick up her check for shamelessly plying her trade on-screen.
All right, listen: I know I sound like a cranky movie critic. I know there are those of you out there who will think I've missed the point of this movie. Well, I haven't. The idea of helping inner city kids -- no matter if it's dancing, football, or finger painting -- can be engaging when done well. If you don't believe me, check out the far better Keanu Reeves sports drama Hardball. Anything can be done well if you have a sharp script behind it. Unfortunately, all Honey has behind it is Alba's own behind, and that isn't enough for me to recommend this movie to anyone, except those who really enjoyed Glitter and Yanni's music.
Honey is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. While I wasn't a huge fan of the film, I will give kudos to this DVD transfer. Universal has done a fine job of making sure the colors and black levels are all spot on and bright. I didn't notice any marring of the image -- dirt, grain, and major defects are all absent. Whatever you think of Honey, the fact remains that this image is a honey of a transfer. A full frame version is also available, but not advised.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English, French, and Spanish. Overall this is a fine audio mix that features many surround sounds, mostly from the rap/hip-hop soundtrack. Otherwise, there are subtle effects in the mix, including background sounds essential to being on the streets of New York. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
You can't imagine how happy I was to see all the extra features that have been included on this first ever DVD of Honey. If we're lucky we'll get an "ultimate edition," a "special collector's edition," and maybe a five-disc box set filled with dozens of Honey goodies. For now, fans will have to settle for a ten-minute documentary, "Behind the Groove," on the making of Honey; a reel of 16 deleted scenes that includes an alternate opening (all presented in non-anamorphic widescreen); outtakes; "Make Your Move: Dance Like Honey" tutorial video; two music videos from the film (Jadakiss & Sheek's "JADA" and Shawn Desman's "Sexy"); commentary with star Jessica Alba and director Bille Woodruff; behind-the-scenes on Blaque's music video "I'm Good" (as well as the video itself); cast and crew info; and some DVD-ROM features.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Commentary by Director Bille Woodruff and Star Jessica Alba
* Three Music Videos
* Behind-The-Scenes Music Video Featurette
* Make Your Move: Dance Like Honey
* Cast and Crew Info
* Deleted Scenes
* "Behind the Groove: The Making of Honey" Featurette