You Got Served
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Elgin and David are best friends, drug couriers and street dancers. As boogie-boys, their synchronized style combines hip-hop, break-dancing, gymnastics, elements of Flashdance and mime.
Elgin, David and their crew have gotten used to winning at warehouse competitions where the pot hovers around $600. So when the rich boys from Orange County send over a video invitation for a dancing duel—winner takes all—the offer is quickly accepted. For this contest, however, each team must put up $5,000. They lose it all.
That little incident, along with a nasty spat that separates David and Elgin, doesn’t put the crew in a very good position when Lil’ Kim puts the word out on the street that she’s offering the best dance crew a $50,000 part in her new video. To determine a champ, a large competition is held at the L.A. Convention Center. And Elgin’s just not going to be good enough to win without David. Can the two somehow reconcile in time? It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out where this well-used plot is heading. ...
David and Elgin’s friendship is genuine. Elgin cares deeply for his sister Liyah and sees himself as a type of father figure in her life. That leads him to believe his role is to lay down the law for her. While it doesn’t work well, his heart is in the right place. When Elgin’s grandmother adamantly insists that he settle issues with Liyah, he keeps his cool and resists the temptation to dismiss her or react disrespectfully.
Mr. Rad runs the local warehouse dance competitions and is portrayed as a caring advisor. In one scene he preaches,” Money ain’t the most important thing, friendship is the most important thing.” (While solid counsel, the film’s overall message is just the opposite.) Although rebuffed by his former best friend, David takes the high road and maintains a good attitude—even going so far as to wish Elgin and his new crew good luck in the big battle.
Before their final competition, Elgin and David’s crew bow for a time of prayer. That prayer includes the theological misstep of interceding for a dead friend. When Elgin’s grandmother realizes her grandson has been roughed up by thugs, she remarks, “I’m just glad you’re alive—thank the Lord!”
The dancing here is more restrained than Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s sleazy Super Bowl antics. But that’s not saying much. There’s plenty of crotch-grabbing and some inappropriate thrusts and hand gestures that mimic masturbation. There’s also a routine involving the pulling down of a dancer’s pants (revealing boxers). But bump-n-grind sandwich moves are virtually nonexistent (a pleasant surprise!).
There’s no nudity, and although David and Liyah are an item—and kiss at film’s end—they never wind up in bed (another pleasant surprise!). David tells his friends he would always treat Liyah honorably. His friends, however, remind him that he’s hooked up with a number of girls in his past.
Sexual content also comes from the non-stop stream of hip-hop songs that play throughout the film (“Show me what you’re working with,” “Bend over”), which often reference “hos” and “booty.” Lil’ Kim dons an extra-teenie bikini (it gets lots of screen time) for the big dance battle. Several other women are shown in ultra-tight or low-cut tops.
On the basketball court, one player brags, “I slept with yours last night.” Elgin’s grandmother asks her grandson, “Are you having sex?” Although it’s hard to imagine a grandmother being so blunt, the implication here is disapproval (Elgin laughs it off).
Most of the “battles” happen on the dance floor. But after losing to the crew from Orange Country at their first meeting, Elgin and David’s troupe exchange blows with their rivals. Even the crew’s female members are involved (one member is seen trying to choke an adversary). On a drug run, Elgin is beaten up by two thugs who leave him bruised and with a bloody lip.
When Elgin roughly grabs his sister by the shoulder, David decks him in response. About this incident one of Liyah’s girlfriends later remarks, “I would have took my shoe off and do damage [to Elgin].” One of the drug distributor’s henchmen forcible manhandles Elgin into a vehicle. A dancer angrily punches a wall.
Crude or Profane Language
Three s-words (two combined with “bull”; one not audible, but lip readers get the message). It’s disappointing to hear a number of uses of “n-gga” as well as more than 20 minor profanities and a few misuses of the Lord’s name.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Sadly, the movie makes no attempt to condemn the fact that Elgin and David run drugs for some type of mob boss—sending the message that making money, no matter how it’s done, is worthwhile. Elgin eventually gets robbed of the dope and is beaten, but the consequences have more to do with being in the wrong place at the wrong time than in doing the wrong thing. The kingpin also smokes cigars. A background track references a drug deal.
Other Negative Elements
Also, the film makes no attempt to denounce gambling. In fact, in order to come up with the $5K, Elgin borrows money from his grandmother who is fully aware her grandson is raising cash for a risky bet. There is also no way to overlook the fact that You Got Served glamorizes extremely troublesome rap music—most notably Lil’ Kim’s. Despite her reputation for being one of rap music’s raunchiest artists, the director sets up the film’s climatic contest as a great prize and wonderful privilege. It’s neither. In addition to Kim, other problematic rappers whose music is featured here include Nas, Redman, DMX and Method Man.
The recipe served here is to take young, talented street dancers (several of whom are played by members of B2K) and showcase their talents. Period. In all fairness, the dancing is tight, choreographed superbly ... if not always tastefully. I can’t help but think that this movie could have been a lot worse—especially in the sexual arena. But “could have beens” don’t right all wrongs. You Got Served dances way out-of-bounds when it gives the impression that dealing drugs and gambling are sometimes necessary alternatives for raising capital. That and the fact that the entire climax celebrates a fool’s gold prize is plenty of reason for moviegoers to waltz away from this one.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Marques Houston as Elgin; Omari Grandberry as David; Jennifer Freeman as Liyah; Jarell Houston as Rico; Steve Harvey as Mr. Rad; Meagan Good as Beautifull; Malcolm David Kelley as Lil’ Saint; Lil’ Kim as Herself
Christopher B. Stokes ( )