Sometimes it's possible to pinpoint the exact moment when a movie starts circling the drain the precise scene in which a film abandons all hope of being good.
For hip-hop dance melodrama "You Got Served," this moment takes place five minutes into the movie, in the third scene, when dancers Elgin (Marques Houston) and David (Omari Grandberry) run some illegal "merchandise" for gangster Emerald (Michael Taliferro).
Taliferro's pinstriped suit, coupled with his whispery-voiced impression of The Notorious B.I.G. channeling Marlon Brando in "The Godfather," sparks a series of giggles from which the movie never recovers. But it tries.
Best friends Elgin and David lead a dance crew and compete for money at the local dance-o-rama (as kids will). After their honor is challenged, they "get served" on the dance floor by a rival crewwho hijack all their best moves, thanks to a Benedict Arnold move by a former friend. Despite personal conflicts, a beating and even death, revenge in the form of fancy footwork is inevitable.
Along with this "Dirty Dancing" mentality of dancing-can-solve-everything, there is some horrible, embarrassing dialogue. For Patrick Swayze, it was "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," although "Dirty Dancing" recovers with a feel-good denouement.
For Jennifer Freeman, who plays Elgin's love interest and David's sister, it's the wooden delivery of "Your boy is really trippin'." But, as with all B-movies, it's not just one thing that makes us want to dash for the exits. No, "You Got Served" commits a variety of cinematic sins, none fatal individually but collectively enough to pull an audience under.
The dancing is good, undoubtedly, but director Christopher B. Stokes can't keep the entire movie on the dance floor. Not even the charm and supernaturally white teeth of comedian Steve Harvey, who plays master of dance ceremonies Mr. Rad, can quite turn the wheel on a movie heading for a brick wall.
It's almost tradition for pop stars to put in a cameo in dance movies. Missy Elliott recently popped up for a few minutes in "Honey" and rising star Ice-T got his start in "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo." "Served" features Lil' Kim, appropriately dressed in an inappropriately inadequate bikini top, picking out dancers for her new video.
Who wins? That would be telling, but it's safe to say they'll yell "You got served!" because when a movie keeps repeating its title, you know it's a stinker.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun