This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Given the frosty reception that Honey has elicited from the public and critics at large, I’ll stick my neck out with a controversial statement; Honey is not an awful film. Certainly not deserving of its’ place in IMDB‘s bottom 100. I say this with the absolute certainty afforded me by suffering through such abject horrors as Full Frontal and Plughead Rewired: Circuitry Man II on your behalf. See, it’s your fault I’m all bitter and twisted. With these immaculate credentials established I now boldly state that Honey is not an abysmal film.
Of course, that’s quite some distance away from saying that Honey is a good film. The essential plot is such a puff piece that it’s almost irrelevant to relate it. The titular Honey Daniels (Jessica Alba) is a wannabe dance superstar, currently a not terribly superstar-like record store assistant with a night job as barmaid at a popular club. She teaches dance at the local community centre in a bid to give disenfranchised youngsters a chance of a better life through hip-hop, somehow. While strutting her stuff at a nightspot, she’s spotted by superstar music video director Michael Ellis (David Moscow).
Plucked from her life of mildly impoverished but honest, down-to-earth existence with her best friends and loving parents into a life of long video shoots, glamorous parties and huge pressure from Ellis in her newly discovered choreography job, Honey starts to lose sight of her roots and so on and so forth, leading to friction in her relationships yadda yadda yadda.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. In any case you’ve little in the matter as I’m going to stop anyway. I’ve certainly seen this all before, and if anything I have to congratulate director Billie Woodruff’s balls in his choice of movie to model this effort on. In a nutshell, Honey is Glitter with hip hop stylings rather than bland family safe R’n’B drivel. Cloning perhaps the most reviled movie of recent cinematic times seems a foolhardy or perhaps incredibly brave move, but it’s saved from the fate that befell Glitter by having a cast that has a shade more than two sparks of talent to rub together.
Alba herself does little wrong that’s her fault, per se. She dances well enough and musters what conviction is possible to deliver some at best workmanlike dialogue, but the main issues lie with Honey’s character. Her continual goody-two-shoes posturing, while admirable in short doses soon grates, especially when doling out half-baked social observations that are trite to the point of vacuity during her side projects of delivering the local kids from the evil of the resident dope pushers. As the junior hoodlums in training that Honey aims to rescue Zachary Williams and Lil’ Romeo show more screen presence that we’d dare hope for, given the usual standard of kiddy winks in this type of fare.
Mekhi Phifer (better known to most as Future from 8 Mile) is given a rather perfunctory role as the love interest, though in truth the barber shop owning all round decent bloke is given so little to do that he might as well not have bothered showing up. A pity, given that he’s the most talented actor present by a rather long chalk.
As if in some bizarre synergy with Honey not being quite sympathetic enough, as the eventual bad guy of the piece David Moscow just isn’t ‘bad’ enough, at least in terms of his character’s manner if not performance. As such it’s difficult to give much of a monkey’s one way or t’other if he’s given his deserved comeuppance or not. In another nutshell entirely distinct from the nutshell referred to before, that’s also the overarching problem with Honey. It’s competent throughout most of it’s areas but it’s never engaging on any level and as such, to no-one’s great surprise, it’s difficult to give much of a monkey’s one way or t’other about the film as a whole.
As a film, Honey is rather like a Ryvita. It’s a suitable base for something tasty, but only if tasty things are piled on top of it. There’s no such toppings on this film, which leaves Honey a rather bland and cardboardy cinematic experience. Them’s the breaks.