In the seven years I’ve been writing about movies, I’ve seen more dance movies than I like to admit. If you really want to get down to it and have a sincere discussion about the modern dance movie, I’ll say that Battle of the Year, 2013’s 3D dance extravaganza, is more serious-minded than, say, the Step Up series, but also less inherently absurd, and thus less fun. Neither are very good, mind you, just different sides of a limited, formulaic coin, and in this case Battle of the Year adds little beyond some uplifting sports movie cliches, a harmless attitude, and an ELO song (don’t get too excited — it’s “Mr. Blue Sky”). The film opens with hip-hop magnate Dante (Laz Alonso) wanting desperately to win the worldwide breakdancing competition, the titular Battle of the Year. To do this, he enlists his childhood friend Jason (Josh Holloway), a former basketball coach who, as we’re told through extraneous fits of exposition, has fallen into alcoholism after the tragic death of his wife and son. Reluctantly — despite his lack of dance knowledge — Jason agrees, managing to sober up enough to shave his neckbeard. He soon convinces Dante to assemble a team of America’s best b-boys. And herein lies the rub, as these all-star breakdancers don’t exactly get along, and it’s up to Jason to bring them together through tough love, montages, and inspirational speeches. What follows is a lot of self-discovery for everyone involved and a lot of dudes spinning around on their heads, following the plots of pretty much every feel-good sports movie, but with dancing.
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