Friends, Romans, Electric Boogaloovians: Lend Me Your Ears : Monkey See The time has come in the Summer Of '80s Movies to experience Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.
NPR logo Friends, Romans, Electric Boogaloovians: Lend Me Your Ears

Friends, Romans, Electric Boogaloovians: Lend Me Your Ears

Now with more Boogaloo: We've reached one of the most notorious sequels of the '80s: Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Courtesy of the AFI Silver Theatre. hide caption

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Courtesy of the AFI Silver Theatre.

This is, I am telling you sincerely, the thought I had during Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, the latest entry in our Summer Of '80s Movies series: "Boy, the quality really slipped from the original Breakin'."

Several things happened between the original and the Boogaloo. The first is that somebody decided it would be better to have less acting and more dancing. In theory, this is a good idea, because the acting in the original was of a caliber usually reserved for seventh-grade plays. Written by seventh-graders. For seventh-graders. The dancing, on the other hand, was Shabba-Doo-lightful.

But for some reason, instead of seeing intense, quasi-realistic break-dancing smackdowns in clubs, as in Breakin' Classic, there are a lot of large-scale production numbers. You know how "Dancing Queen" was performed in the movie of Mamma Mia!, where all the townspeople gathered and gradually migrated to the docks in order to celebrate togetherness through the dance? This is more like that.

Overall, the production numbers have gone over the Oklahoma! barrier, if that makes any sense to you. Oklahoma! often gets (only moderately accurately) described as one of the early musicals that became really successful in spite of totally defying reality — in other words, in many prior musicals, people danced and sang in dancing-and-singing situations, which is why you had so many musicals about stage performers and so forth. But in Oklahoma!, people will just start randomly warbling and leaping about right in the middle of, say, a serious discussion about fidelity.

What I'm saying is that Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo is kind of like Oklahoma!.

[deep bow] Thank you. This shall be my contribution to the culture.

The dance-off, the draw of Paris, girlfights, and saving the community, after the jump...

Anyway, in the original, the "dance-off," logically enough, took place in front of a large crowd of easily impressed onlookers in a dance club, where — were you inclined to have a major brawl in the form of dancing — you might logically conduct such an event. In Boogaloo, there is a large dance-off that takes place under a highway, between two gangs, witnessed by no one. Now I ask you: what is the point of a dance-off when nobody is watching? How do you know who won?

And yes, there is a lot more silliness where large groups dance down the street and are incongruously joined by onlookers, cops, construction workers, football players, Eskimos, and the like.

The basic "plot" of this movie has a lot in common with the Jessica Alba "classic" Honey and countless others: it's all about saving the community center. See, Ozone (Shabba-Doo) and Turbo (Boogaloo Shrimp) and Kelly (Lucinda Dickey) have apparently fallen on hard times, er, months after the debut of their wildly successful Broadway show Street Jazz (tee hee). Kelly is auditioning but getting nowhere, while Ozone and Turbo are apparently urchins once again, though they are teaching at the center, which is called Miracles. (Naturally.)

Of course, the cruel hand of commerce, in the form of evil developers, threatens to crush the center unless Ozone, Turbo and Kelly are able to raise $200,000 in one month to renovate it. Apparently, the developers will be foiled if the building is renovated, which doesn't sound like any evil developers I ever heard of, but: okay. When a car wash fails to raise $200,000, they even visit Kelly's rich, snooty parents.

Now, I'm not here to tell you Ozone's not a good guy. But if you're going to go meet the parents of a girl you seem to be sort-of dating, and you're nervous about how it's going to go, here's a hint, from me to you. You don't have to wear an Izod shirt or anything. But maybe going totally bare-chested except for your mostly-open leather vest isn't exactly the most parent-friendly look, you know? At any rate, Kelly's father turns out to be...well, he's stuck-up, and he lacks imagination, and he doesn't support her dancing — oh, and he's a total, unrepentant racist. That's the other thing.

So Kelly's dad isn't really up for giving Ozone and Turbo $200,000 that they can use for Whatever You People Do With Money (that's basically what he says).

As you can imagine, this leaves only one plausible solution: Let's Put On A Show! Or more specifically, Let's Put On A Street Fair That Maybe Would Also Include A Show! Now, nothing against community events, but I'm not sure it's completely plausible that a street festival is going to raise $200,000. Nevertheless, they forge ahead.

Meanwhile, Kelly is being offered the opportunity to audition for a show that's going to Paris. If she gets it, though, it will prohibit her from participating in the rescuing of the center. (You can see how this might go. The street fair raises $600; Ozone blames Kelly, insisting they would have nailed the last $199,400 if only she had shown up.) Ultimately, they have a falling-out anyway, and the other girl who's trying to be Mrs. Ozone threatens Kelly with a beating if she ever ventures in the direction of the center again, so she decides to go to Paris.

(Oh, and right around here, there's a scene where Ice-T is smashing LPs with a stick. It's good to know somebody's keeping a clear head.)

Of course, the Evil Developers proceed and get permission to tear down the center from the incompetent zoning board. (This happens in spite of a small blonde moppet appearing at the hearing to protest, "But we're working on a show! We're gonna make lotsa money!")

Have I mentioned yet that this movie has a break-dancing mime? Okay. Because it does. Anyway.

Turbo eventually engages in an act of civil disobedience to stop the tearing-down of the center: he steals a construction worker's lunch and runs off with it. He then falls down several flights of stairs during his getaway, sustaining a serious Delicate Blood Trickle injury. This brings Ozone to Kelly's house, where she decides to go with him to the hospital to see Turbo, instead of going to Paris.

When Kelly arrives at the hospital, Turbo immediately recovers, and a large musical number follows, which includes dancing patients with canes and wheelchairs, booty-shaking nurses, old guys getting down in their bathrobes, and a man on the operating table revived by the power of funk. This is what I mean about how it's just like Oklahoma!.

Ozone and Kelly have a pizza together, at which point they are visited by Kelly's horrible racist father, who cannot believe she gave up Paris for "that street dancer." Her father has come up with the most painful bargain of all: he will use all his money to save Miracles if she will forsake "that neighborhood" and go to Princeton. What to do! Kelly wants to go along, but Ozone is having none of it, and (shirtlessly) tells her father to get lost and take his giant piles of free cash with him. "We don't need your money," he declares, somewhat implausibly.

Elsewhere, Turbo is convincing his non-English-speaking new girlfriend (long story) to help him get out of the hospital so he can help with the show, presumably by rhythmically thumping the ground with his huge leg cast. According to the laws of cinema, he is wheeled out in a laundry cart.

Preparations for the big show continue, and when Kelly goes to help out, she winds up in a fight with the other prospective Mrs. Ozone, which is interrupted only by the arrival of several large bulldozers that apparently intend to take down the building right now. But the bulldozers are turned back by — what else? — the power of community dancing and the arrival of Turbo and his Plaster Casts Of Justice. Still in his hospital gown, he stares down the bulldozer.

(Best line of this section: Evil Developer says to Bulldozer Driver that he must forge on even if it means running over Turbo. "No way," says BD. "I came here to do a job, not to kill kids!" ED: "Who are you working for?")

Long and short: Bulldozers defeated.

And then the media shows up, and everyone falls in love with "the little guy," and they cut off Turbo's cast with a saw. Press coverage brings everyone to the Miracles show, Ice-T does a little rap about the importance of having a place to hang out, and the center is saved. Sorry if that's a huge spoiler.

Oh, and Kelly's father sees a media report about her, suddenly decides she's awesome and he really admires all those kids for standing up for their beliefs, and he hands over the last $50,000 they need. It's very "Nobody puts Baby in a corner." Local news cures racism!

Cue balloons floating into the sky! Cue closing production number! Everybody dance!