Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Let's groove to a ghetto vibe and mellow down with a familiar tale of candy babe from Harlem Heights, who is discovered by a pop video director and put on the escalator to fame.

The formula is as old as the casting couch, but it's what you do with it that matters. Despite cliches lining up in rows, Honey has real energy, emanating as much from Jessica Alba's performance as the exhilerating hip hop routines.

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Honey Daniels works behind the bar in a club, but her true love is dance. She's fit, 22-years-old, absurdly optimistic, with a smile that would imobilise a great white at five fathoms. In her spare time, she runs courses on rap moves at the local warehouse gym and is constantly trying to encourage disafected kids, who reckon they need no lessons in street style from a fancy tancy ho.

Meanwhile, ambitious producer/director Michael Ellis (David Moscow) has seen clips of her dancing in the club and reckons he can use her in his next pop video. He may have other things in mind - well, he does, obviously - but first he wants to see how she performs under instruction before a camera.

Honey is no pushover (naturally). She knows what Michael wants in the area of corporate hospitality and she knows what she wants in the area of choreography. In the battle for moral superiority, there is no contest. In the fight for control over the dance, that's tougher.

Love interest is provided by superfine hairdresser Chaz (Mekhi Phifer), who has known the rough life and is grateful for his chances. The emotional bullet comes from the kids, who don't pass up the chance to strut their stuff on film.

You could say that Honey is harmless as Flashdance was harmful, but there's more here than a cynical exploitation of anodyne pop. For one thing, the music has grit. For another, the dancing kicks the licks.

Honey Daniels is not just a pretty face. She has integrity and she believes.

The movie may be pure Hollywood and the plot sweetened to taste, but feel that feeling and roll to that rhythm.

What's the message, Honey?

"Trust and believe in yourself."

Reviewed on: 11 Mar 2004
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Nice girl from urban badlands teaches ghetto kids how to dance.
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Director: Bille Woodruff

Writer: Alonzo Brown, Kim Watson

Starring: Jessica Alba, Lil' Romeo, Mekhi Phifer, David Moscow, Zachary Williams, Joy Bryant, Anthony Sherwood, Lonette McKee, Missy Elliott

Year: 2003

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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Honey 2