Music video director Bille Woodruff's debut big-screen movie, Honey, is, imagine this, a very long music video. Actually, it is more like a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a MTV music video, complete with mouthy choreographers and pushy directors. Except, instead of the asinine off-the-cuff drivel spouted by real-life dancers and directors, Honey uses sappy scripted nonsense to carry its unbearable plot.
Of course, when the script is co-written by Alonzo Brown, the executive producer of the goof-ball "reality" courtroom series Judge Mathis, and Kim Watson, writer for the children's cartoon Little Bill, one should not expect thespian level dialogue. Actually, the writing for the Bill Cosby creation, Little Bill, is much more riveting and vastly more believable.
Jessica Alba, the leather-clad, post-apocalyptic warrior of the short lived Dark Angel series, is almost worth the watch. Almost. Unfortunately, her smiling slinkiness is not enough to salvage her inane role. She plays title character Honey, an unbelievably ethical choreographer who is able to shun the bling-bling temptations of the video industry to focus on the needy kids in her local hood.
The movie is laden with syrupy scenes to win cheap appeal. Little cutesy kid Raymond is liberally added throughout the story to garner "Awwws" from easily manipulated audience members. His older brother Benny, played by Lil' Romeo, at least adds a tougher edge with his wisecracking "I don't need nobody" attitude and his penchant for illegal activities.
Honey's honesty and neighborliness are shoved down the viewer's throat. "Oops, thug boy, you dropped your big cash wad on the sidewalk--here ya' go." "Good morning, Mr. Elderly Grocery Man; your apples look extra shiny today." "Hey little latchkey kid, your mommy is too busy to get your hair cut. I'll do it." For God's sake, Honey, do something wrong. Cuss out your pushy mom. Be human.
To emphasize her morality, Honey is forced between accepting the rapacious sexual advances of her employer and giving up her newfound success in the video choreography industry. Her most honorable decision teaches her about true friendship, true love, true family, true whatever. The happy-happy joy-joy message is this: Be true to your dream and success will find you. Essentially Honey is a hip kid's movie with a positive message: Stay off the streets and believe in yourself and you will eventually make it out of the misery of the slums oh yeah, and dance a lot. If it had not been birthed by Universal, it would work well as a Disney TV movie, minus the drug trafficking by minors and the sexual harassment.
The thug/rap/hip-hop aficionado will enjoy the cameo appearances by music stars, most notably Ginuwine and Missy Elliot. In fact, "Misdemeanor" Elliot's sharp-tongued, pursed-lipped insult barrages add some much needed earthy humor to the flick. The dance routines themselves are enjoyable and numerous enough to distract from the movie itself -- if only for a minute.
Honey is watchable if you set your brain to "hip-hop happiness in the hood." Otherwise, I'd suggest watching Little Bill.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun