The only thing more shamelessly stupid than the utter self-congratulatory premise behind “Battle of the Year” is the god awful product placements. One thing about these stupid dance movies it that they’re a gold mine for corporations to advertise to an audience that likely can’t afford their crap. So we’re shown images of Braun in the background in the first minutes of the film, Josh Peck has a new Sony Ipad because “It’s the future,” he tells main character Josh Holloway. Then there’s an insert of him renting “Planet B-Boy” on Netflix, menu and all.
“Battle of the Year” is directed by Benson Lee, the man who also created the documentary “Planet B-Boy,” so of course every dancer in this film considers the documentary “their bible” as Peck’s character proclaims. It’s the best and most definitive dance documentary in the history of cinema, period. And boy, what an annoying self-indulgent move it is to see a director pat himself on the back while delivering such cliche claptrap as this. I didn’t think it was possible, but “Battle of the Year” is more pandering than the entire “Step Up” series combined, and wastes no time in trying to make its target audience salivate. This is a movie that still considers MTV an edgy source for trends, with MTV News’ Sway Calloway making a cameo. Seriously, is there a movie that guy won’t appear in?
As you’d guess it, Josh Holloway is a coach recruited to bring the crew together and he plays by his own rules. He is very unorthodox and unkempt. So unusual is he that he makes his crew live in an abandoned jail together under one roof and train non-stop, and he even recruits a woman to choreograph the dancers. A woman?! Teaching men?! What witchcraft is this? All the while he’s counseled by Josh Peck, who doesn’t do much except deliver awful exposition and gaze wide eyed like he’d been tranquilized and forced on set by wranglers jabbing cattle prods behind him. You also have to love how Josh Holloway is a retired coach who hasn’t been outside in years, and he’s still very fit and toned with only a mild stubble. Character Dante Graham is now a corporate mogul who is upset that B-Boying is losing its momentum in America and is now nothing but a sport for foreign countries.
He laments that it’s become more popular in France than ever. As plot motivation, the writers even trot out lines like “I went to a concert and I overheard some high-school kids saying that B-boying is no longer cool.” And that’s basically the catalyst for the entire narrative. CEO wants B-Boying to be cool again, and he’s constructing the magnificent seven of crews to–I don’t know–make it cool? Make money off of it? I could never really be sure. Of course the crew are recruited for their skills, but they have to learn to get along. And find common ground. And become brothers. And all that nonsense you’ve seen a billion times over. “Battle of the Year” is such a brutally obnoxious mess that the only way it can be seen is ironically and with a lot of heavy alcohol.