You Got Served

Starring Omari Grandberry and Marques Houston. Rated PG.

The title You Got Served basically means that the servee has been played, spun, or otherwise treated as a sucker. Long before the end of this retrograde break-dancing movie, audiences will know just how that feels.

In keeping with the tradition of male-talent movies, whether about rock stars or guys who spin on their heads, whatever sense the characters have of themselves is subsumed by macho pride. That's just about all that's on display in this amateurishly mounted film's centre, the so-called friendship between Elgin and David, who are played by real-life brothers and singers Marques Houston, of IMx, and B2K's Omari Grandberry.

These South Central homeboys, who help finance their break-dancing skills by making deliveries for a local crime lord (what they're dropping off is never made clear), live to challenge other crews at the winner-take-all warehouse battles refereed by the gruff Mr. Rad (the ubiquitous Steve Harvey). But the lads fall out when Elgin's little sister, Liyah (Jennifer Freeman), starts dating David on the sly. When brooding Elgin is left in the lurch during a drop-off gone wrong (surprise!), he won't forgive his pal, not even to take on "a bunch of rich white kids from Orange County".

There's an interesting subtext here, with the latter gang--led by spike-haired Christopher Jones as a latter-day Vanilla Ice--literally copping the poorer, mostly black kids' moves for fun and profit. But it's not clear that this was apparent to writer-director Chris Stokes, who has directed plenty of music videos and not much else. Oh, and perhaps I should mention that he manages both IMx and B2K.

Most of the other actors are drawn from those two groups, or outfits connected with them, and the performers are not so much bad as simply left to fend for themselves whenever asked to show something like real emotion. Veteran Meagan Good, as Liyah's snooty friend Beautifull, helps round out the UPNí‚ ­friendly stereotypes.

The film only works when everyone is popping and/or locking, but even this part runs out of steam during a big-hall, MTVí‚ ­covered event that offers a $50,000 payoff. For extra motivation, Stokes adds a feebly-set-up death of a character who barely registered in the first place. The final throw-down is so choppily assembled that it's impossible to tell who is busting what moves. Maybe it was all about the money for everybody here.