I don't really get why Honey 2 is called Honey 2 since...well, the first flick is nine years in the rear-view mirror by now, Jessica Alba's nowhere near here, and what few connections this sequel has to the original are pretty insignificant. Whatever. Anyway, Maria Ramirez (Katerina Graham) is fresh out of juvie, and after being taken under the wing of Honey's mom (Lonette McKee), she once again finds sanctuary in the one place that truly felt like a home to her: the centuh. Oh, her old dance crew, the 718...? They bad news, yo. Their leader-slash-Maria's-ex Luis (Christopher "War" Martinez) is a common crook who's to blame for her getting locked up in the first place. Doesn't matter that they're the current champions of Dance BattleZone, which is...yeah, depressingly, actually the name of a super-popular TV show in this thing. That's okay. There's an up-and-coming crew in the centuh that has the raw talent to be something special...to be a contender on a basic cable dance show hosted by Mario Lopez that has that vacant, dead-eyed girl from The Hills as a judge. Maria's choreography and mad skillz help mold the HD Crew into a force to be reckoned with. Oh, but no matter how fly they may be, the road to Dance BattleZone stardom is treacherous indeed. Conflict! Romance! Stinging betrayal! An offscreen dying grandma! Does the HD Crew have what it takes to...I don't know, stomp the yard against the ballers and shot-callers of the 718? Can the HD Crew even hold it together long enough to face them in battle?
...and, okay, you already know the answers there, but that's not really the point. My absolute biggest guilty pleasures at the tail-end of the '90s were teen movies like She's All That and Drive Me Crazy, and even though they were all very slight variations on the exact same plot and could never be mistaken as objectively good or whatever, I loved 'em anyway. They were sweet and sincere and kind of ridiculous, and the formula and familiarity were all part of the fun. I guess I look at dance movies as being the same sort of thing. If you're analyzing Honey 2 the same way you'd approach Kieślowski or something, then, yes, obviously it's gonna pale by comparison. The dialogue is howlingly bad, for one. I mean, when I threw in all those clunky, outdated hip-hop clichés a paragraph or two up, at least I was kidding. When Honey 2 throws out something like "yo, we need you, and we still got mad love for you" or "Tina, when you ready to grow up, come holla at your boy" or "yo, I was wrong! We ain't no damn crew! We just some posers!" or "someone call the cops 'cause I think these guys just broke a few laws...of physics!", it totally means it. Honey 2's stabs at humor are wading ankle-deep in flopsweat. A good bit of the acting is stilted and awkward, particularly Christopher "War" Martinez who struggles in vain to deliver any of the way-too-much dialogue he has convincingly. Clearly some of these folks were shipped in because they could dance, not because they could act. But hey! Don't take my word for it:
At the end of the day, not even a little bit of that matters. Honestly, the terrible dialogue, clumsy acting, and paint-by-numbers storytelling are endearing. I don't mean in a snarky so-bad-it's-good way; Honey 2 means it, and that sincerity really draws me in. Yeah, sometimes I'd laugh when I wasn't supposed to, but I was never cringing or staring longingly at the clock on the wall. I had a good time with Honey 2, and that's gotta count for something. Katerina Graham sometimes gets a little too cartoonishly exaggerated as this tough-girl-from-the-streets but still manages to be extremely charming in the lead. I really like some of the supporting players, especially
When I first looked at the flipside of the case for Honey 2 and saw that the runtime was approaching two hours, I kind of recoiled in horror, but here's the thing: something like half of that is dancing. The sheer volume of dance numbers is borderline-surreal. I tried keeping a running tally for a while there but gave up after the eighteenth dance sequence, and there was still plenty going on after that. I'm a rhythmless white suburbanite, so I won't pretend to be an expert on urban dance crews or whatever, but there's a remarkably eclectic variety of styles on display here, and every last bit of it is astonishingly acrobatic and brilliantly coordinated. I'm not pretentious enough to write something like "it's the human form become liquid" to describe how superhumanly fluid the movements are here, but I sure did think about it. Director Bille Woodruff has helmed enough music videos to know how to most effectively capture bodies in motion like this, and that energy and athleticism really beam through here. Honey 2 is kind of fascinating to just lean back and watch.
If you're strictly looking at the writing or the acting, then, yeah, Honey 2 is exactly the movie you think it is. That sloppiness winds up being kinda fun and charming in its own way, though, and the variety and staggering number of dance sequences make the clunkier moments all seem worth it in the end. Yeah, we're talking about a movie that's rocking a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes right now, so I'm not going to pretend it's some kind of unappreciated cinematic marvel or whatever. Still, I dug Honey 2 for what it is, and if you think you might like it, you're probably right. Honey 2 isn't something I see myself going back and watching over and over again, so a rental is probably the way to go here if by some small miracle you're still slogging your way through this review. Rent It.
The cinematography for Honey 2 has that unmistakeably digital look to it that I'm not so much a card-carrying fan of, but other than that...? This shiny,
The high bitrate AVC encode for Honey 2 spans both layers of this BD-50 disc. There's no matting or anything this time around: just a straightahead aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
Wait, I'm reviewing a PG-13 flick, so I can get away with a little profanity, right? Because holy shit, the bass in this thing. Not to throw too many acronyms in one sentence or anything, but the LFE in this 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio track is unreal, unleashing hellishly low-frequency booms that rival just about anything I've ever experienced on Blu-ray. The downside is that bass is such a focal point throughout the dance sequences that I couldn't appreciate too much else of the sound design. I'm sure there's plenty going on there because even lower-key sequences make subtle yet wildly effective use of the multichannel setup...really clever discrete effects to help flesh out a sense of place. The sound design is primarily about the music, yeah, but the atmospherics throughout this track are pretty much first-rate and are not to be ignored. Very well done.
Also piled on here are lossy DTS 5.1 dubs in French and Spanish. Subtitles are served up in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.
It's not technically an extra, but the blooper reel plays over the end credits rather than being its own thing.
Honey 2 comes packaged in a glossy, embossed slipcover. Lovingly tucked inside are a DVD and a digital copy code, including that fancy new UltraViolet streaming that all the kids are talking about.
The Final Word
Hmmm...how best to cram down that long, rambling review into a bite-size summary?
Uh, on second thought, I think I'll just roll with a bold, italicized Rent It instead.