- Movie Rating -

Beat Street (1984)

| June 8, 1984

If the world needs a breakdancing movie, then I suggest that the best way to approach it is to keep it simple.  That was the key to Breakin’ which I liked very much because the director never allowed the story or the characters to get in the way of the dancing.  That’s not quite what we have here.  Beat Street has a lot of great dance scenes but I think only about half of what Breakin’ had to offer.

The story here is also a little more serious.  Breakin’ was little more than an updating of those old Mickey and Judy Let’s-Put-On-a-Show plots, meanwhile Beat Street wants to match the kind of heavy personal drama of Saturday Night Fever.  It doesn’t work, and the movie’s character drama drags.

The story focuses largely on a young hip-hop artist named Kenny who lives in the slums of New York City with his mother Cora and his little brother Lee.  He has dreams of making it big as a Manhattan disc jockey playing The Roxy.  Into the picture comes Tracy, a City College graduate who is now working as a composer and choreographer.  They fall in love and she encourages him to pursue his dream.

There are a lot of characters in this movie and a lot of different subplots that go on including Lee’s association with the guys from his neighborhood who form a dance group, and a graffiti artist who wants to paint the subways of New York City.  Plus there are subplots about romances, girlfriends, parental discourse, and the blood sweat and tears of trying to make it in the business.

I appreciated the effort but I kept thinking back to the energy of Breakin’.  That movie kept things simple.  I liked the paired down simplicity of the characters and the dance routines which, in their own way, were kind of mesmerizing.  Beat Street, by comparison, is overstuffed.  I didn’t really care about the personal drama.  Just get to the dancing, which is mesmerizing.  That’s what I came to see.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1984) View IMDB Filed in: Musical