You Got Served
If you want respect, you got to take it!
Written and directed by Chris Stokes
You Got Served is a 2004 film starring Omari Grandberry, Marques Houston, and Steve Harvey. In it, teams of street dancers take each other on in team dancing competitions while struggling with internal issues.
p l o t
This film, like its predecessors Breakin', Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, Flashdance, Footloose, and Honey, is a film primarily about dancing in which the plot only serves to accentuate a series of well-choreographed dance scenes (which I discuss in the next section). The remainder of this section is full of spoilers, so if you don't want to be spoiled on the plot, you may want to skip this part of the writeup.
The film focuses on David and Elgin, two friends who are leaders of a dance crew. This dance crew participates in regular competitions at Mr. Rad's (Steve Harvey, the only well-known actor in the film), which is essentially a large warehouse designed with a boxing ring setup in the middle allowing teams space to do their choreographed dances.
Throughout most of the early film, David and Elgin's dance crew dominate the competitions at Mr. Rad's, until one day an all-white team from Orange County shows up at Mr. Rad's and proceeds to utterly destroy David and Elgin's team. The leader of this new crew, Wade, is visually reminiscent of Billy Idol, and after defeating David and Elgin, he tells them in no uncertain terms, "You just mad... because tonight you suckas got served!" It's the high point of the movie in terms of plot.
After this, we follow a series of subplots which take up the central part of the movie; this is the worst part because after seeing some of the strong dance routines at the beginning, the acting and predictable plot don't keep your interest. David and Elgin break up the group, Elgin takes a strong interest in David's younger sister (Liyah), and eventually a convoluted plot occurs involving the shooting of David's younger brother by thugs. This provides the impetus for the team to get back together and take on the dancers from Orange County in a $5,000 dance competition, which David's family desperately needs.
In the end, the Orange County group "gets served" and everyone lives happily ever after in the background of Usher videos.
d i r e c t i o n / c i n e m a t o g r a p h y
The portion of this film that really shines is the cinematography of the dance sequences. It's clear from even a casual viewing of the film that Chris Stokes, the director and writer, has a deep love for street dancing and wants to show the dance routines in a strong light, and that really comes through to the viewer. The dance routines have a lot of energy and are well-shot.
Comparatively, the rest of the film seems to have the production values of Mystery Science Theater. Much of the rest of the movie seems to have been shot in one take over the period of an afternoon, while the entire rest of the production time was spent choreographing and filming the dance routines.
Given the already-noted lack of effort given to the writing, which merely serves only as a segue between dance segments, and the fact that there are some severe social issues wrong with the between-dance portions of the film (discussed below), one can really maximize their enjoyment of You Got Served simply by moving from one dance sequence to another.
c r i t i c a l i s s u e s
There are several important social issues that this film brings to light during even a cursory viewing that deserve to be discussed. It is actually sad that a film made in 2004 can, in a serious manner, attempt to perpetuate racial and social stereotypes.
First of all, the African Americans in the film are, in general, portrayed quite nicely, with the exception of a few "heavies" who come off like Notorious B.I.G.. David and Elgin, the two central characters, go through a number of realistic trials and tribulations - self-doubt, confusion, lack of direction - that everyone who fails at a creative endeavor goes through.
The problems begin when you look closer at the type of lifestyle they represent. Most of the characters in this film talk about "taking it to the streets" all the time, yet most of them are dressed in the latest fashion trends; the clothes that many of the main characters wear must have cost hundreds of dollars. The fact that these individuals run around yelling about "keeping it real" while wearing expensive clothing given to them by their well-off parents is rather sad. Even more confusing is the fact that David dresses like this: his family is portrayed as being down on their luck. I won't even analyze some of the other black stereotypes in this film, such as Elgin's grandmother, who is basically Martin Lawrence's "grandmama" character from Big Momma's House; as an intelligent person, I find such stereotypes to not only be painfully stupid, but actually insulting to the many intelligent elderly black women out there. I know many African American women and none of them act like this character.
What bothers me even more, though, is the way that the group of kids from Orange County are portrayed in this movie. The entire group is portrayed as the embodiment of evil and rudeness, which in itself is understandable if you want a complete one-dimensional villain for your film. Yet, throughout the movie, these guys are referred to by other characters as "crackers," which reinforces a generic stereotype. Since the "bad" gang is all white and the "good" gang is all black, doesn't this of course mean that "whitey" is holding them down? It's ludicrous nonsense based on a history of the United States that is already passing us by. Referring to a group of people by a demeaning name is wrong, regardless of the group. What saddens me even more is that the target audience for this film is teenagers, who observe such terms as being appropriate. Hatred and bigotry are never appropriate.
c a s t a n d c r e w
Although I criticize them above, most of the cast members of this film are tremendously skilled dancers, and the crew does a good job in many areas of capturing the energy of the dance routines.
Omari Grandberry as David
Marques Houston as Elgin
Jennifer Freeman as Liyah
Jarell Houston as Rico
Dreux Frederic as Rashann
DeMario Thornton as Vick
Marty Dew as Marty
Jerome Jones as Sonny
Tanee McCall as Toya
Amanda Rodrigues as Keke
Malcolm David Kelley as Lil Saint
Meagan Good as Beautifull
Steve Harvey as Mr. Rad
Christopher Jones as Wade
Chris Stokes (writer and director)
Marcus Morton (producer)
Billy Pollina (producer)
B2K, Tyler Bates, Max Gousse, O'Ryan, and Ludacris (music)
David Hennings (cinematography)
s o u r c e s
Sources for this writeup include:
IMDb, You Got Served (2004), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0365957/
DVD, You Got Served, film and production notes, ASIN: B0001MMGC2
Below is my first attempt at a writeup discussing You Got Served. Given the blatant racist overtones, incoherent plot structure, and useless stereotypes that the movie perpetuates, I felt that the best way to describe these aspects is by magnifying them even more, taking the writeup to a ridiculously over-the-top level. Was it a success? You can be the judge on that; it was nuked, but it died with a positive reputation, and I feel that it should be judged on the basis of the more factual writeup above. If any editors wish for this section of the writeup to be removed, just ask.
You just mad...
'cause tonight you suckas got served!
YOUcomplete waste of moneyGOTComplete Waste of TimeSERVED!
A Chris Stokes Joint!
Da Bomb Dropped in 2004!
Shout Out To Gotta Dance Entertainment And Melee Entertainment For Keepin' It Real!
If you want respect
you got to take it!
Hear this! In the proud tradition of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, this piece of cinematographic dynamite is all about takin' it to the streets, yo!
You know what it means to be 2 legit? Chris Stokes and his posse bring down the house right here, showing off their fly dance moves and bragging about how badass they are while wearing $600 in FUBU gear. These boys keep it real, showing off the inventive dance steps first brought to you by New Edition and now kept real by such masters of rhythm as Vanilla Ice. We got the same moves as Electric Boogaloo, but now they're taken to the next level!
I asked you a question
Elgin Barret Eugene Smith III!
Do you hear me?!
This film got all the hot characters you can really identify with!
We got Grandmama, the no-nonsense old black dress wearing lady who keeps our man Elgin down!
We got David and Elgin, two dead end drug couriers. You seen Friday? Take out that whack humor and any semblance of acting ability and you got David and Elgin!
We got Liyah, the street smart ghetto woman! Three words: NO YOU DIH-HUNT!
We got Two Hundred Nameless Dancers, trained by watching Paula Abdul and MC Hammer music videos! You see 'em in droves at your local dance club; why not pay money to see them dance around on screen?!
drop it like it's hot!
- Lil' Kim
You want the hottest movie stars? We got 'em! Lil' Kim in da house! B2K in da house! Omari Grandberry in da house! Marques Houston in da house!
If you aren't down with the new generation, then you aren't down with the underground, yo! Stop by Hot Topic and pick yourself up an upside down visor and a FUBU jacket and then you'll be legit!
Don't forget to pick up our dance video Takin' it to the Streets either! Only $19.95 at your local Sam Goody!
You did with Dawn
you did it with Shondrella
and you did it with the triplets
You think this movie's all about stereotypes? You think this movie's all about drug runnin' gangsta wannabes? You think this movie's all about whitey versus the man over the latest shizzle from Urban Outfitters?
It's ON now, boyee!
This feud is
stupid, selfish, and it affects a lot of people!
This movie is the hotness! You wanted to see large groups of suburban kids facing each other in breakdancing competitions? You got it! You wanted to see a plot involving "Whitey" trying to hold the people down? You got it! You wanted to see a nine year old get gunned down exposing the hardness of suburban life? You got it! You wanted to see a movie where every heavy looked and acted just like Notorious B.I.G.? You got it!
You want a movie with all the hot 1990 dance moves? You want a movie with the latest $300 Sean John fashions on tough talking suburban kids? You want a movie with the hottest one liners and the freshest stars and the pimpinest dance routines?
Well, then, baby, YOU GOT SERVED!