Honey

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I’m offended that the makers of “Honey” think I’ve never seen a movie before. At least, I assume that’s why they thought they could get away with making a film consisting of nothing but clichés, old plot devices and stock characters. If I really hadn’t ever seen a movie before — if I were truly a newcomer to the medium of film, still dazzled by the notion that pictures can move and talk — then I’m sure I would find “Honey” perfectly enjoyable.

But I HAVE seen movies before. I’ve seen a lot of movies. And so “Honey” is just irritating and stupid. “Honey” and I did not get along. “Honey” and I are not friends.

“Honey” is about a New York City girl named Honey Daniels (Jessica Alba) who works days in a record store, nights at a dance club, and teaches hip-hop at the community center somewhere in between. Like Mariah Carey’s character in “Glitter” (a film only barely worse than this one), Honey keeps getting told by everyone how talented a dancer she is, like maybe two or three times in every scene, even though she’s not any better than the dancers around her. In fact, she’s often worse, especially compared to the kids in her hip-hop class, like young thug-in-training Benny (played by someone called, I assume as a joke, “Lil’ Romeo”) and his little brother Raymond (Zachary Isaiah Williams — NOT Raven Simone, the little girl from the later years of “The Cosby Show,” though he does look like her).

Anyway, there’s a video director named Michael Ellis (David Moscow) who sees Honey dancing at the club one night with her homegirl Gina (Joy Bryant), and he wants Honey to come be one of the hootchy dancing girls in a video he’s shooting for a rap artist named, I assume as a joke, “Jadakiss.” She shows up, and not only does he put her in the video, but he makes her the star! And then he makes her his new choreographer!! She’s THAT good!!!!!

Soon she’s the toast of the town, choreographing all the big hip-hop videos, going to all the fancy parties, making the big money, buying “bling-bling” telling people their “flavor” is “hot,” whatever that means.

For some reason, there is also a guy who plays basketball at the community center, and he’s played by Mekhi Phifer, and Honey likes him. I don’t know why he’s in the movie. Perhaps he wandered onto the set and everyone was too polite to ask him to leave.

Do Honey’s parents disapprove of her “squandering” her talents on hip-hop when she could make a career in ballet? Does altruistic Michael Ellis turn out to be slimy and try to sleep with Honey? Does Honey forget her roots and overlook her friends as she becomes successful? Does the community center get shut down, and must Honey put on a show to raise money to save it? Why, yes. If you predicted all that, don’t be alarmed, you’re not a psychic. You have merely seen movies before. Even if you’ve only seen three or four in your entire life, that would give you enough of a knowledge base to not only guess every step of this film’s path, but to write a better one yourself.

Often with these movies, the director casts in the lead a dancer who cannot act, or an actor who cannot dance. The director of “Honey,” Bille Woodruff (a real-life video director), has cast Jessica Alba, who can do neither. Her two facial expressions are “smiling” and “blank,” the latter of which fills in for everything that “smiling” does not cover. Her dancing is OK, but not enough to convince anyone that Honey is worth all the attention she gets.

I have several favorite stupid moments in this film. They include:

– When Honey’s dance club rival calls her a “Section 8, no-rhythm-having club ho.”

– When Honey is stumped for a choreographical concept for her new video, and is then inspired by the movements in basketball and jump rope.

– When Michael Ellis, who is thoroughly white, is rebuffed by Honey and declares, “Bitch, how you gonna play me like that?!”

One moment I honestly enjoyed is Missy Elliott’s brief cameo. She brings more humor, sass and energy to the film than anyone else in it, and she’s only on the screen for a couple minutes. I wish the movie had been about her.

D (1 hr., 35 min.; PG-13, some mild profanity, some mild sexuality.)

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