Breakin’ (1984), or My Other Car Is A Break-dancer

11 08 2009

I’m by no means your typical white guy. We can all pretend that nobody has preconceptions about other races, but don’t kid yourself. Within the general consensus of American misinformed thoughts and practices, most people have certain misconceptions about one another; all Asian kids are unreasonably smart, all black people are loud during movies, and all white guys are arrhythmic nerds. It’s a plain fact that when most people see a white guy on the dance floor, they cringe and fear for the worst. And while I have seen plenty of white guys cut a rug before, and I believe that it’s a soundly untrue stereotype, I, sadly, cannot dance. I can’t even do the venerable cabbage patch without disgracing myself. I just have NO rhythm. Whenever I am asked if I can dance at a function or a gathering, I often feel somehow to be a disgrace to my race, even though my race has been PLENTY besmirched by those before me. It’s embarrassing, and even bringing it up right now stings a little bit. So when I see a dance movie of some sort on TV, I usually switch it off so I don’t have to be reminded for 90 minutes of my lacking balance and coordination. But Breakin‘ is different. Breakin‘, made in 1984 when break-dancing was at its peak, is a movie that is so dated and un-hip in its style, its music, and its attitude, that it makes me feel incredibly hip by comparison!

Breakin‘ is all about taking the popular dance of the streets and turning it into the voice of a generation. Or something like that. It’s really every dance movie story ever. Basically three people, Special K, Ozone, and Turbo, start up a crew and try to prove themselves in the clubs and on the streets. They meet with some resistance and some hesitation, but together with the power of friendship and dance they can overcome anything, even Special K’s disdainful dance teacher, bitter rival dancers (the Poppers!), and their own goofy street names.

It’s all allegedly about the power of acceptance through the medium of dance, but its really a thin veneer for the performers/actors to show off their skills. Not that it’s a problem; they’re damn good! I couldn’t name the moves to save my life, but Break-dancing (or b-boying or b-girling as Wikipedia would have us know) is a serious skill, and I was blown away by the moves on display here. I kept waiting for someone to sprain their back or break their neck, but somehow everyone stayed in one piece (on set). I couldn’t do ONE of these acrobatic feats, let alone the serious chains going on here, so watching Breakin‘ really puts into perspective just how seriously talented these dancers are.

Besides the acrobatics on display, though, there’s not much to credit this movie for. The acting is groan inducing (“FOOL!”). Nobody in this is particularly proud of that aspect, and it shows even back then. Hardcore rapper/Special Victims Unit investigator Ice-T is in this movie, and I couldn’t even begin to describe how much of a non-entity he is, so I won’t. Lucinda Dickey is Special K, and she does well enough not to embarrass herself, but she ends up being more of a cutesy nobody than a real character. Ozone and Turbo are funny, but not in a purposeful way. More like that, “How quaint” kind of way where you look back at the hideous phrases and stylings of the age and shake your head. I mean, look at what the people were WEARING! Why would you have that many accessories? Are you looking to make a lot of noise while you walk or do you just like weighing an extra 5 lbs?

But Breakin’ isn’t about anything else besides the beats and the dancing. That’s all well and good, I suppose. I just wish it didn’t seem so aware of this fact. It says to the audience, “Oh, you wanted some story? Well, too bad, bitch!” and smashes a beer bottle in our faces. I don’t like a face full of glass, and I particularly don’t like being besmirched by a DANCE movie. But, all prejudice aside, it wasn’t bad. It was cheesy but breezy, and full of genuinely cool dance moves. I call a mulligan on this one; I gotta put it right down the middle and give it 5 FOOL!s out of 10. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go get my b-boy on!

Tomorrow, I take a dip into a generally accepted classic; stay tuned for when I watch Gone With The Wind!




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