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Honey Daniels (Jessica Alba) is a 22-year-old from a middle-class, mixed-race background, who works in a bar and teaches hip-hop moves to the neighbourhood street kids while she dreams of being discovered as a performer and choreographer. After being “discovered” by a video clip director (David Moscow) she finds herself on the way to possible fame and fortune. But as Honey soon discovers, success has its price: she finds herself losing touch with her friends, unable to keep up old commitments, and eventually faced with the question of how far she’s prepared to sacrifice her principles in order to realise her dreams.

Review by Jake Wilson:
With all the clichés and some to spare, this “inspirational” hip-hop fable demonstrates (far more than the overrated Chicago) that the spirit of the old Hollywood musical is alive and well. Blessed with a total lack of irony, it’s as upbeat and contemporary as the MTV music awards, making up for what it lacks in narrative invention with a rush of youth, colour, rhythm and sexual energy. The music rarely stops, and even aside from the dance sequences (which are brief but frequent) a euphoric commercial sensuality makes itself felt throughout. Jessica Alba’s Honey Daniels is less a character than an irresistible physical presence, all tawny hair, muscled limbs and graceful insouciance. 

When cinematographer John R. Leonetti isn’t fooling around with digitally enhanced city skylines and other MTV gimmicks, his saturated colours make for some of the most gorgeous nightclub sequences outside of Hou Hsien-hsien’s Millennium Mambo. Similar jewelbox interiors lend even the more mundane scenes a glamour that’s almost detachable from the plot: my favorite example is a shot of Alba sprawled amid the glistening clutter and bric-a-brac of her bedroom, sleepily fobbing off her best friend who wants to go shopping. 

Unlike comparable “musicals” such as Coyote Ugly, Honey is a “family” film, targeted at girls of around ten and up. 

Still, only adults will be able to appreciate the paradoxical, very American innocence of its “girl power” fantasy. “Sexiness” in Honey’s world is an inarguable good, yet for all her pleasure in showing off her body she retains her moral purity, refusing to sleep her way to the top: as we’re reminded throughout, she’s not simply an object of desire, but also a youthful authority figure (as a dance teacher) and a creative artist (as a choreographer). Plus she’s hardworking and streetwise, has a burning social conscience, and looks great in a denim jacket. People who don’t like this movie really need to lighten up… 

DVD bonus features include an audio commentary with Jessica Alba and director Bille Woodruff), a making of feature, some deleted scenes, outtakes and music videos.

Published June 10, 2004

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CAST: Jessica Alba, Lil' Romeo, Mekhi Phifer, David Moscow, Zachary Williams

DIRECTOR: Bille Woodruff

SCRIPT: Alonzo Brown, Kim Watson

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen 5.1 surround sound;

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Inside Scoop (commentary with Jessica Alba and director Bille Woodruff); Behind the Groove (The Making of); Making Your Move; deleted scenes; outtakes; music videos


DVD RELEASE: May 26, 2004

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