Neophyte directors are told to tell the stories they know and pop-video supremo Bille Woodruff gets top marks for advice-heeding in his big-screen debut. If Honey isn't the noughties' Flashdance, it's not for the lack of trying. Or the lack of choreography, from the heroine's Irene Cara-esque club moves to the capering urchins led by Mini-Me rapper Lil' Romeo.
When doling out marks, everyone's a winner here. Bar, perhaps, those who are allergic to "doin' it for kids" homilies, or bemused by a hip-hop world in which the words "bitch" and "ho" and homages to restricted weapons are entirely absent. Not that this stops the hip-hop community dropping by for appearances in a way that's redolent of the early heyday of rock'n'roll celluloid movies such as The Girl Can't Help It.
Witness Missy `Misdemeanor' Elliott phoning in gags and gravitas; her protégée Tweet's flattering cameo; and Ginuwine and Jadakiss only slightly back-footed by the ban on all matters ho-related. Meanwhile, star Jessica "Dark Angel" Alba goes straight to the front of the class, awarded an A-plus in anatomy by God Himself. She may not really be a choreographer, or a passable actor come to that, but she's definitely the hottest of hotties.
What's more, everything necessary to prove this is a movie with urban flava and family values is firmly in place. Honey loves "making it", but only as much as she loves teaching (strictly PG) moves to munchkins. The second her mogul mentor Michael (David Moscow) turns slimy, she's back in the hood - spooning with handsome barber Chaz (Mekhi Phifer), helping big-eyed kiddies-at-risk and fundraising for a new dance centre sure to send drug dealers packing. (Will she succeed? Hey, does J-Lo travel first class?)
Inevitably, putting community service over accumulating greenbacks is a tad implausible and undermines Honey's soft-focus attempts at "keeping it real". Break it down, though, and you're left with two big assets: the awesomely fit Alba and non-stop dancing that will have even the most curmudgeonly jigging in their seats.
Sugary-sweet and good for you, Honey is a hip-hop dance treat for the whole family, as wholesome as Jessica Alba is eye-popping.
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