Projections - Movie Reviews
Starring Jessica Alba, Mekhi Phifer, Joy Bryant,
David Moscow, Lonette McKee, Zachary Isaiah Williams

Cobbled together from Flashdance, Honey isn't the kind of vehicle that will make Jessica Alba's attempt at movie stardom glitter.

The former lead of TV's "Dark Angel" is a Bronx-bred dancer named Honey Daniels who eyes the glamour of music-videos and it seems to work into the mind set of director Bille Woodruff. Regrettably, the film perfunctorily makes Alba out to be a Jennifer Lopez wannabe, dressed at times like Jennifer Beals splashdance 20 years ago, and is a series of cliches set to a hip-hop beat.

Honey charts the rise of someone who wants to be dancing in videos that she checks out, from the joint where she bartends. She also teaches hip-hop at an eroding community center. A director, Michael Ellis, acted unevenly by David Moscow, notices her from his scout's camcording at her club and likes her moves. He gives her a job as a choreographer for his videos. She turns away his advances and she is forced to face unemployment long enough to shift her aspirations into buying a sizable dance studio for street kids.

Woodruff, known for helming videos for the likes of Toni Braxton, stages the aura around Honey becoming a lead dancer then trying to hold her own when working with rappers like Tweet and Ginuwine before pitching her rhythms for videos and getting approval from producers. The adorable Alba tries to keep a straight pretty face as Honey wants to work with street kids like Lil' Romeo.

The film is watchable only in snippets when dialogue isn't heard and Honey grooves to the rhythm of her heart. It all leads to sprucing up an empty storefront for the all-important fund-raiser. Sounds like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney.

Rapper Missy Elliott endows a woman with attitude to keep Honey focused in a way that will draw Michael back to her. Scenes with Laurieanne Gibson as Honey's envious competitor were silly enough to elicit laughter. Joy Bryant, the girlfriend in Antwone Fisher, is Honey's cheerleader of a best friend, and Mekhi Phifer is barbershop owner Chaz who becomes Honey's love interest and confidante.

Alba doesn't mind being as pure as Marie Osmond throughout much of the embarrassing sequences that feel like a murky drama aimed at urban audiences. Maybe she could have modeled himself more like the Jlo from Maid In Manhattan with less soft characteristics. The film has the contrivances and plotting of the worst moments of daytime TV like "The Young and the Restless" whose theme is heard when she helps an adolescent start to wise up. Some might have through Alba could have been the kind of actress that could have brought some flash and grit to what it takes to make a video. But Woodruff turns her into a puppet who's more aware of returning money dropped on the street than making the choreography come alive.


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