You may have heard that Honey 2 is the ‘dance movie event of the decade’, so I sat myself in front of the original dance epic to prepare us all for the road ahead. My wife tells me that Honey is one of the original street dance movies, before they became passé, so my fears going into this film could well be unfounded.
We open over the New York City skyline, while a rap song informs us that this is ‘New York City’, so I’m starting to feel that this film may be set in New York City. Honey is a barmaid in da club where dance-offs erupt spontaneously in every corner of the dance floor. Honey’s friend Gina asks her why she’s still tending the bar when she could be ‘making it’ as a hip-hop dancer extraordinaire. The girls hit the dance floor and we’re treated to Honey’s sick moves; moves which offend her evil opposite, Katrina. Now, Katrina has already made it in the hip-hop business so she thinks she’s all that, as demonstrated by her violent finger-wagging and hip-shaking in Honey’s direction. Oh no you didn’, girlfriend!
Honey leaves the club by the back alley exit, only to find a bunch of street kids passing off some fly dance moves out by the trash cans – presumably the underage have to dance in the alleys before graduating to da club. Honey is impressed by their sick styles (a little too impressed at first, I was wondering if things were about to get statutory) and invites them to her hip-hip class. Yes, she teaches hip-hop too – she has to work two jobs just to make ends meet! She’s our kind of hard-working hero! Most of the kids think she crazy,yo but the tiniest kid of all, Raymond, thinks she’s all that. But in case we don’t love her already, we’re shown a quick sequence where some dude accidentally drops a massive dirty wad of cash (seriously, there must be about $200 in that wad) and Honey picks it up and hands it to him, smiling. Ah, Honey, you are incorruptable.
But wait – conflict! Honey’s mum questions her hip-hop enthusiasm; she asks, ‘why can’t you teach ballet in a nice uptown studio?’ Because she’s living her dream, you stupid bitch! Thankfully, Honey’s father, who I think is Lando Calrissian, keeps the situation calm. We like Mr. Honey.
We now switch to Ellis productions, where the hip-hop video producer, Michael Ellis has spotted a scout’s video of Honey’s sick moves on the dance floor and decides he needs a girl like her in his music videos. This could be Honey’s big chance! But what about her adorable little hip-hop class? And what about a mysterious basketball player called Chaz who appears to want a little bit of sweet, sweet Honey for himself? And what about tiny, afro-legend Raymond, who’s brother appears to be getting into shady dealings with gangsters? And what about Honey’s bestie, Gina, who wants Honey to take her to Atlantic City for her birthday? Man, this film is like Inception, except it’s layer upon layer of broken dreams.
So, needless to say, Honey is a hit on the music video stage – Ellis turns her into a choreographer and soon she’s earning ‘big faces’, which I assume means … money? But all this choreographing, which seems to mostly take place during the night hours, means she has no time to lead her hip-hop class (which takes place during the day. I… I don’t know). Raymond is crushed. Honey finds him outside a barber shop and offers to accompany him inside and – omg, y’all – it’s Chaz the basketball player! He thinks Honey is Raymond’s mother, but Raymond sets the record straight: ‘We just peoples!’ Chaz wishes he and Honey were peoples – more than peoples – and asks Raymond’s permission to date Honey. Things sure are getting crazy in New York City!
But wait, the multiple threads of plot are starting to weave together! Ellis thinks something is missing from the latest dance moves and Honey suggests bringing in her hip-hop class kids into the mix. Ellis calls them ‘fresh air fun kids’, which apparently means ‘yes’! Score! Could this be the way out for these criminally tempted young ragamuffins? Honey certainly hopes so.
But, oh no! Disaster strikes! The building where she holds her hip-hop classes (you know the classes she’s been too busy to hold) has been permanently water damaged! Thank goodness Honey is earning megabucks; she spots a commercial space on the market and vows to buy it and turn it into a dance studio. She makes a deal with a banker to put down half the deposit now and half in thirty days – this can’t possibly go wrong!
So, to catch up: Honey is a big hit choreographer; the kids are big hit dance extras; Honey’s buying a brand new dance studio; she’s dating Chaz and she’s taking Gina to Atlantic city. Everything is coming up Honey!
But, disaster strikers when she’s forced to attend a business party with Ellis instead of taking Gina to Atlantic City. Gina is pissed, yo. Pissed. And Ellis is creepy as fuck when he tries to seduce Honey at the party with his creepy, creepy hands. Honey slaps him down and with that, Ellis brings his furious white man’s wrath upon her. He fires the ghetto kids from the music video and blackballs Honey – not in the good way Chaz is blackballing her (snork!) – she’s been struck from the entire hip-hop industry! And now she can’t afford her hip-hop studio! Curse you, Ellis! You have turned this movie on its head!
Taking on the advice of Christina Aguilera, nothing is going to bring Honey down today. She reconnects with Gina and they decide to throw a hip-hop benefit concert to raise money for Honey’s new dance hall. And whenever movie characters try and raise money, we cut to a montage! Everyone is dancing and putting up posters for the benefit because YES WE CAN! Gina even takes a poster to the banker. Bizarre!
And if that’s not enough, down at Ellis Productions, Missy Elliott is throwing a missy-fit because she wanted Honey as her choreographer, not trumped up, pornographic, diva dancer, Katrina. Ellis is forced to crawl back to Honey, offering to pay for the entire dance studio. Honey, in an act of utter stupidity and pride, turns him down, saying the ghetto people will raise the money by themselves, so they will.
It’s the day of the benefit and the old church hall is packed with folk, including the banker to whom Honey owes money. It turns out that the banker is Gina’s friend and she’s got connections in all the right places – how very convenient! Honey’s parents are in the audience, the ghetto kids’ parents are in the audience, everyone is enjoying the show and are so very , very proud. I’d like to say that an amazing ending would be if the vigorous dancing caused the old church to collapse and kill everyone except Honey. Honey would then become embittered and live a ‘life is cruel’ mentality; Honey 2 would be about a new batch of ghetto kids dancing to reinvigorate cranky Honey. But no, they all dance their little socks off – one of them in Heeleys, making sure this film is permanently stuck in 2003.
And as everyone cheers at our hip-hop-happy dancers, we move outside to see that Missy Elliott has turned up to see Honey! But she’s furious at her chauffeur for making her late. And thus, the last spoken word in this rags-to-rage tale, is ‘ass’.