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Friday, January 30, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
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Movie Review
They should've danced all night in inept 'Served'

By Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times movie critic

Thrilling street dancing and Lil' Kim are the only things that pop out in "You Got Served," in which pals respond to a challenge from a rival dance crew.
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Like the valiant but inadequate bikini top worn by Lil' Kim in a late scene, "You Got Served" is hopelessly stretched-out; it can't quite cover the territory. There's some terrific street dancing on display in this tale of two best friends who lead their dance crew through challenges to triumph.

As far as plot, drama and performances go ... well, did I mention that the dancing is good?

Cut out all the nondance scenes, and you'd have a perfectly fine music video. Choreographers Dave Scott and Shane Sparks, working with dozens of young performers, create the movie's only real excitement: dancers spinning on their heads, lurching along in rubber-legged crab walks, flipping a line of one-armed handstands, freezing like perfect mannequins. Though these segments are filmed chaotically — you want to grab cinematographer David Hennings' camera and hold it still — they're a kick to watch.

In between all this, though, is a story, and a thoroughly inept one at that. Elgin (Marques Houston, of the hip-hop group IMX) and David (Omari Grandberry, of the now-defunct R&B group B2K) are pals who respond to a challenge from a rival dance crew. (They should know this crew is trouble, because it's headed by some scowling guy whose hair resembles a bowl of spaghetti gone terribly wrong.)

Movie review

Showtimes and trailer

"You Got Served," with Marques Houston, Omari Grandberry, Jarell Houston, DeMario Thornton, Dreux Frederic, Jennifer Freeman, Meagan Good, Steve Harvey, Lil' Kim. Written and directed by Christopher B. Stokes. 93 minutes. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and sexual references. Several theaters.

Various complications ensue, including some move-stealing (straight out of "Bring It On"), a romance between David and Elgin's sister Liyah (Jennifer Freeman, so beautiful that the camera seems to be purring when it focuses on her), money borrowed from Elgin's agreeable grandma, and a nasty bit of business involving a dangerous-looking mobster in black pinstripes. This guy (the mountainous Michael "Bear" Taliferro) seems to be providing some genuine menace — but then his subplot is abruptly dismissed and his character vanishes. Perhaps Taliferro had something better to do elsewhere.

Likewise, the offscreen death of a character comes out of nowhere and has no impact; it's as if writer/director Christopher B. Stokes felt obligated to put some conflict in the movie but got too distracted by the dancing to resolve it. You can't blame him for that. His actors, while earnest and likable, mostly don't display much range. Even Steve Harvey ("The Original Kings of Comedy") is muted, babbling platitudes as the dance-contest referee.

"You Got Served" is 15 minutes of often-thrilling movement, buried in 90 minutes of amateurish filmmaking. So, just who got served?

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or


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