Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Honey



USA 2003 : Bille WOODRUFF : 94 mins

Sweet-faced Bronx babe Honey Daniels (Jessica Alba) works in a record shop by day, and gyrates away her nights in sweaty hip-hop dance-clubs. In between, she squeezes in teaching her moves to local kids, dreaming of fame and fortune as a music-video choreographer. When she’s talent-spotted by hot-shot director Michael (David Moscow), Honey becomes an overnight success. And soon learns that money can buy everything… except happiness.

Likely to appeal only to undemanding pre-teen girls and/or hardcore fans of relentlessly perky Dark Angel star Alba, the clunkingly paceless Honey shamelessly ticks off the corniest cliches from every sappy follow-your-dream showbiz tale you’ve ever seen… right up to the lets-put-on-a-show finale. Alba is likeable enough, but it doesn’t help the movie that she’s somewhat white-bread to be a convincing conscience of the ghetto (Dancing isn’t what they do, its who they are!), Honey being the daughter of a black father and a vaguely Hispanic-looking (and gratuitously disapproving) mother.

It isn’t just the presence of the perennially-underused Mekhi Phifer (as Honeys barbershop-owning love-interest) that may stir unwelcome memories of an even more bogus trip through a fantasy-land version of thug life, Curtis Hansons dire 8 Mile. Honey thankfully never plumbs those depths, but this is unacceptably substandard fare nonetheless.

Slimy Michael inadvertently hits the nail on the head when confronted with Honeys concept for a Ginuwine video: a hip-hop pied-piper affair featuring doe-eyed moppet Raymond (Zachary Isaiah Williams). The whole kid thing … its horrible, he sniffs, correctly. Grindingly predictable, cloyingly manipulative and utterly lacking imagination in both script and direction, its notable only for a brief third-act cameo from living-legend Missy Elliott but even this is much too little, way too late.

1st March, 2004
(seen same day : Odeon, Gate, Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

by Neil Young