Battle of the Year: movie review

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Bastardizing his own 2007 doc, Planet B-Boy, Benson Lee throws street cred to the breeze with this unspeakably rote Hollywood mockery of its deft nonfiction predecessor, with clueless bigotry as shrill as the squeak of new kicks on a stage floor. Dante (Laz Alonso) may be the deep-pocketed African-American sponsor, but if he wants to win the titular break-dance Olympics, he’ll have to enlist his white bestie, Jason Blake (Josh Holloway), to coach, presumably because Tinseltown insisted. So begins an Aryan schooling of a box-checkingly diverse dream team, consisting of the Asian one, the gay one and the volatile, wisecracking misogynist, played by a Methody Chris Brown.

That the players’ boss’s boss is black, but still sidelined, marks Battle of the Year’s feeble attempt to mask hayseed Blake as the lily-white (and goofily incongruous) hero of the piece. Even more transparent is the movie’s covert jingoism, which surfaces when Team USA hits France for the global tournament and is unconvincingly mocked while still hogging screen time. (A transcendent, blindfolded routine about America-as-melting-pot can’t fix matters.) The raison d’être of popping-and-locking scenes is trumped by tired team-building bathos, whose flagrancy is anything but conducive to spreading the film’s hug-it-out bro-love.

Follow R. Kurt Osenlund on Twitter: @AddisonDeTwitt

Release details

Duration: 109 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Benson Lee
Screenwriter: Chris Parker, Brin Hill
Cast: Josh Holloway
Josh Peck
Laz Alonso
Chris Brown
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