Honey 2

Honey 2


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Teen dance films rarely contain surprises. This one follows the standard formula very closely indeed, with a strong-willed girl overcoming confidence problems to enter a televised contest that could make her a star, and finding romance along the way. But like its predecessor, Honey 2 has more to offer than the standard fare, because its central character is much more substantial and much more watchable than viewers will expect.

Maria is the girl in question, just released from a juvenile detention centre and fostered by dance studio owner Mrs Daniels as she tries to get her life back on track. She's played by Katerina Graham, one of those rare individuals worth watching both as a dancer and as an actress. At a time when there's increasing public concern over the imagery surrounding girls, Maria is a great antidote. She's sexy, especially in action, but it's a sexuality she's fully in control of and she doesn't let the boys in her life take advantage. She's muscular and healthy and confident about her body. And at the point in the plot where the heroine would traditionally break down and need to be rescued by a mentor or a Deus ex machina, Maria stands up and demands a second chance for herself.

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This isn't just about being politically correct. What it amounts to is a character whose fate we can care about. And Maria isn't portrayed as perfect; she's full of doubts about her ability to achieve her dreams, she screws up in her relationships with other people. The film has a tender romantic element but equal screen time is given to her complex relationship with an ex boyfriend who becomes her rival, as well as her troubled friendship with a girl who has issues of her own.

In the tradition of this sort of film, the world these characters inhabit is somewhat sanitised. "I could never make any money as a dancer," says Maria, and fortunately nothing occurs to challenge that naivety beyond the offer of clean-cut celebrity. Unlike in the first film there's no suggestion that celebrity itself will entail risks. The juvenile detention centre is probably the most civilised ever committd to celluloid and the poverty of the teens' surroundings rarely seems to impact them directly, aside from the possibility that one character's grandmother will die unless money can be raised for her hospital bills (all the more terrifying because of the way it's treated as a minor, commonplace issue). The bad things that the troubled teens do are really very minor and no-one gets seriously hurt. But this means, of course, that the film could always be confident of a PG certificate, and many younger viewers will love it.

So what about the dancing itself? It's not quite up to the standards of films like Step Up 2 The Streets, and not quite as well paced or as well integrated with the rest of the film, but there's still a lot of impressive work on display. Some moves should definitely not be tried at home without instruction, yet enthusiasts will find quite a bit they can immediately try incorporating into their own dance routines. Great costume design improves the look of the routines, especially towards the end.

Too familiar to amaze anybody, Honey 2 is nevertheless a solid piece of work that does its thing with gusto.

Reviewed on: 07 Jun 2011
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Just out of juvenile detention, a teenager trying to rebuild her life is drawn back into the hip hop dance she loves.
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Director: Bille Woodruff

Writer: Blayne Weaver, Alyson Fouse

Starring: Katerina Graham, Christopher 'War' Martinez, Randy Wayne, Seychelle Gabriel, Mario López, Audrina Patridge

Year: 2011

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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