YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


'You Got Served' is powered by the energy from street dancing

January 30, 2004|Kevin Thomas | Times Staff Writer

"You Got Served" celebrates the energy and talent of self-taught street dancers, which sustain a slender plot about two friends who see their dancing ability as a way of bettering their lives.

Elgin (Marques Houston) and David (Omari Grandberry) live in South Los Angeles, where they have formed their own crew to participate in local dance competitions run by the avuncular but tough-minded Mr. Rad (Steve Harvey) in his warehouse. The more serious-natured Elgin is intent on winning prize money to help his sister, Liyah (Jennifer Freeman), pursue her dream of going to medical school.

The youths live in an attractive Craftsman cottage neighborhood, but the solid appearance of their family life and environment proves deceptive. Presumably, Elgin and David are still in high school, and when they're not practicing their dance moves with the crew they're on the basketball court, which does not leave them with much time for part-time jobs. In any event, they've become couriers for a local drug kingpin (Michael "Bear" Taliferro). They keep telling each other that each run is the last, but how can they quit when they've pooled their life savings and then borrowed $1,500 from Elgin's grandmother (Esther Scott) to put up $5,000 for a competition against the sneering Wade (Christopher Jones) and his crew -- and then lost?

Things are about to go from bad to much worse, with Elgin and David's friendship buckling under the pressure. David may be the more easygoing of the two, but Elgin, in his pride and stubbornness, reveals how immature and naive he really is. His best hope is a major competition with a $50,000 prize, yet he refuses to allow David to be in his crew, even though he needs him to have a chance at winning.

Writer-director Christopher B. Stokes, a music industry veteran in his feature debut, expresses considerable empathy for Elgin and David and their friends but does not shy away from Elgin and David's foolishness and Elgin's pigheadedness. Since Elgin, as the film's principal figure, spends most of the movie in a glum state, it's a good thing Stokes has surrounded him with plenty of lively and likable types, including Meagan Good, a standout as Liyah's sassy but well-grounded best friend.

The heart of the movie, however, is the dancing, which is as spontaneous as it is spectacular, incorporating considerable gymnastics. Choreographers Dave Scott and Shane Sparks have deftly given the dancing sequences flow and form while preserving the all-important street spirit of the moves. None other than Lil' Kim, wearing a skimpy bra and hip-huggers, is the big competition's judge. With her personality and presence, she deserves a movie of her own.


'You Got Served'

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and sexual references.

Times guidelines: Suitable family entertainment.

Marques Houston...Elgin

Omari Grandberry...David

Jennifer Freeman...Liyah

Steve Harvey...Mr. Rad

Meagan Good...Beautifull

A Screen Gems presentation of an Ultimate Group Films production in association with Melee Entertainment. Writer-director Christopher B. Stokes. Producers Marcus Morton, Cassius Vernon Weathersby, Billy Pollina. Executive producers Ketrina (Taz) Askew, Max Gousse. Cinematographer David Hennings. Editor Earl Watson. Music Tyler Bates. Costumes Ca-Trece Mas'sey. Production designer Maxine Shepard. Art directors Jason Weil, Kitty Doris Bates. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. In general release.

Los Angeles Times Articles