Judge Eric Profancik can outdance any of these homies.
If you want respect, you've got to take it.
Currently ranked #4 on IMDb's Bottom 100 list (as I write this, it's bouncing between #4 and #6, ranking lower than From Justin to Kelly), You Got Served got seriously dissed. It ain't earning any respect, but it earned back five times its budget—so straight back at ya! I requested to review this film because the trailer looked fun and energetic. While the film is definitely the latter, it ain't all that fun. In fact, the first time I popped in the DVD, I only made it five minutes before I turned it off. It then took another month before I tried again.
Perhaps this all stems from its release on January 30, 2004. In addition to You Got Served, the latest Elmore Leonard incarnation, The Big Bounce, was also released. Now you may be asking, what do an urban dance drama and a soggy Hawaiian caper have in common? That would be an excellent question. The two are innately tied together because You Got Served's climax takes place at The Big Bounce: a huge dance competition. Thus, I think those in the know got confused and saw the wrong movie. You go in expecting to see some slick moves, and instead you end up just feeling sick.
Facts of the Case
David (Omari Grandberry) and Elgin (Marques Houston, Good Burger) are best friends and leaders of the hippest, hottest, best dance team in town. In every competition over at Mr. Rad's (Steve Harvey, Johnson Family Vacation) warehouse, their team cleans up every time. Nobody can touch them; nobody even comes close. At the end of the night, they're divvying up the dough among their team.
That is, until Wade (Christopher Jones, O) and his boys show up one day and make a $5,000 challenge. To come up with the money on their end, Elgin has to borrow money from his grandmother. But they're confident because they've never lost. David and Elgin figure they have a good week or two to practice, but Wade lays down some smack and the contest takes place that night. In a few seconds, everything has changed, as Wade and his boys cream David and Elgin's team. They are devastated.
To earn the money to pay back Elgin's grandma, the two go back to work as delivery boys for a local drug dealer. They don't want to do this, they know it's wrong, but they have no other options.
In the interim, David has started dating Liyah (Jennifer Freeman, Johnson Family Vacation), Elgin's sister, and Elgin has hooked up with Beautifull (Megan Good, Biker Boyz), Liyah's best friend. Elgin isn't keen on his best friend and sister dating, so he's trying to keep them apart. But David and Liyah are sneaking around, dating behind Elgin's back. One day while David and Liyah are out, Elgin gets a call from the drug dealer saying he needs the boys to make a special delivery. Elgin tries to call David, but Liyah has turned off his cell. Needing to get the job done, Elgin goes on the delivery alone and is mugged. The drugs are stolen, and Elgin is sent to the hospital.
Because David wasn't there for him, Elgin is livid and wants nothing more to do with his now ex-best friend. But David is so very sorry, and he convinces the drug dealer to give Elgin time to pay him back…instead of enacting a more immediate and permanent solution. By fortune's favor, The Big Bounce is coming to town. It's a huge dance competition with a $50,000 grand prize. But because Elgin won't speak to David, their team is torn apart.
Can the boys come together, make peace, and win The Big Bounce?
While You Got Served is definitely a bad movie, I can't believe that it's been ranked so low on IMDb. It makes me think that there's a vendetta (or something else) against this film. I've seen some real clunkers in my day, but I wouldn't rank this movie as one of the all-time worst. Overflowing with clichés, convenient plot twists, bad acting, boring dancing, and inane dialogue, You Got Served makes me want to go back for a refund. If you call this service, it's time to go out of business.
• Clichés: When two young black men meet or say goodbye, do they always shake hands and thump their chests together? Does a young black man always have a strong-willed grandmother as a role model? Does he just ignore his mom? Are drugs an inescapable part of a young black man's life? According to You Got Served, the answer to all these questions is yes.
• Convenient Plot Twists: Life is going pretty well. You have two young men staying out of trouble by dancing, but let's mess it all up by bringing an evil white boy into the mix to tear things apart. Let's toss in some treachery from left field, some drugs from center field, and a dance contest with a big purse from right field to round out the package. Not to mention the granny with money, a couple of way hot chicks, and a competition that ends up with the same two teams in the final round. Yes, movies need to progress from point A to point B, but in a drama, shouldn't events unfold in a slightly more realistic fashion? Does everything have to feel forced?
• Bad Acting: There's not one person in this movie who does a fine job of acting. Young actors dominate most of the film, and they're all rough around the edges. Not a one of them gives you a convincing performance. But even when you look at the few adults in this film—Jackée Harry (227), Steve Harvey, and Lil' Kim—they don't fare any better; in fact, Lil' Kim is horrendous! But in a movie mired in a sea of inept acting, there is one performance that stands proudly above the rest: Christopher Jones as bad white boy Wade. The nefarious ringleader of the posse that trounces our movie's heroes, Wade is nothing but a copy of the stereotypical "dude" from a videogame. He has chunky dialogue, unconvincing emoting, and even stupid blond, pointy hair to top it off. Kudos to Wade for being the latest videogame-to-screen character.
• Boring Dancing: The dancing is what I think originally grabbed my attention during the trailer. As I said previously, it looked to be very energetic, well choreographed, and just fun. But in the film, it's just disappointing. Most of the moves just looked old and unspectacular. It all came across as something anyone could do with ten minutes' practice, not cutting-edge street moves that only young, hyper, talented kids could do. The whole crux of the movie failed by not grabbing and impressing me. The Big Bounce? Heck, if that's all you got, let me get my homeys and I'll meet you there. Now if you read closely, I did say "most of the moves." In all honesty, it's not a 100% loss as there are a few slick moves intermingled in the routines. While watching the bonus materials, I saw that they often cut back to these specific cool moves, and I feared I might have shortchanged the film; but I didn't.
• Inane Dialogue: I've watched quite a few urban films this past year, and the dialogue of You Got Served really annoyed me. I guess as a white guy in Cincinnati, I have no idea what the latest trends are in language. All I know is that the gibberish that everyone was uttering in this film just felt over the top. It didn't feel real. Do kids really talk that way these days? It is possible, but I don't know. If so, I'm way out of the loop, and it just felt unnatural to me. If not, then it's painfully obvious you're ladling on language in hopes of adding the last layer of cool to the film. On the flip side, if it isn't inane, it's just trite. Take this fabulous pearl of wisdom handed down by Mr. Rad: "Money's not the most important thing, it's friendship." Mr. Rad is meant to be a source of leadership and guidance to these young men, but he's nothing more than a walking Hallmark card.
For those who still care about this disc, let's take a few to talk about the bonus materials provided. First off, there are two audio commentaries to wade through. The first audio commentary features a variety of cast and crew and is labeled as a "video and audio dance commentary." Well, I didn't read that right. This commentary is both video and audio and somewhat focuses on the dance sections. So, during the opening dance number, Wade's victory dance, and The Big Bounce, the movie shrinks to a small box in the bottom left corner, and the rest of the screen shows you the commentators. I like this style of commentary: seeing and hearing those involved. But, as I wasn't all that hip to the film, I wasn't very involved with what they had to say. As usual, the cast does share some interesting facts along the way, but most of the time it's just a lot of whoopin' and hollerin' about what's going on onscreen. The next commentary is strictly audio with director Chris Stokes, Omari Grandberry, and Marques Houston. As I was pretty bored with the first commentary, I'll admit I didn't listen to most of this one because it started off very dull and monotone. I figured I learned enough from the first track, so I gave this one the adios.
Rounding out the bonus features are "Serve It Up: The Making of You Got Served" (26 minutes), "Badaboom" Music Video by B2K featuring Fabolous, Battle of the Beat clip compilation (5 minutes), and Dance Breakdown. The making-of featurette isn't all that bad; I don't care for any music videos as bonus materials (but as Omari and Marques are the lead singers of B2K, I guess this inclusion makes some sense); and the clip compilation is a complete waste of time, as is the Dance Breakdown, which is the opening sequence with multi-angle.
Let's try to squeeze out one more positive thing about this film, or at least the disc, before we close. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is very well done. I did not detect any transfer errors on this clean, sharp print. Colors are rich and bold, blacks are deep and solid, and details are well rendered. On the audio side, you're treated to a very good Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. For the scenes focused on dialogue, you'll have no problem understanding a single word. And when we switch over to the dance scenes and the music, the disc really rocks. It's an exceptionally powerful presentation that will shake your walls.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
A wicked, jam-packed, hip-hop flick that gets its game on! This dope film gets heavy on the moves and is fly with the skills. This movie has it all with great acting, smokin' babes, hot dancing, and an all-around great time. You'll love this film for its dope portrayal of urban life.
You Got Served clearly misses the mark. The film is dull, predictable, laughable, and just plain silly. There's not one moment of realism, there's no one to truly care about, and the core dancing is weak. If you want another serving of the same ole same ole, then step up for You Got Served; you'll be treated to an ill-conceived, poorly executed, lazy film with plenty of been-there-done-that. There's no need for you to rent or buy this disc. Save your money for better discs.
You Got Served is hereby found guilty of failing to care enough to send the very best. It is sentenced to fifty hours of community service with William Hung.
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Scales of Justice
• Video and Audio Dance Commentary by Cast and Crew
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