Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1984) / Musical
MPAA Rated: PG for some sexuality
Running time: 94 min.
Cast: Lucinda Dickey, Adolfo "Shabba-Doo" Quinones, Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers, Peter Maclean, Susie Coelho, Ice-T, Harry Caesar, Sabrina Garcia
Director: Sam Firstenberg
Screenplay: Jan Ventura, Julie Reichert
Review published May 20, 2003
Mere words are not going to do justice to the experience of watching Breakin' 2 Electric Boogaloo, so I would advise just watching it for yourself if you are interested, regardless of anything I have to say. It's a truly audacious endeavor, almost surreal in its approach to music. Obviously, Polish director Sam Firstenberg (American Ninja) had no clue as to what he was doing in shooting a musical, letting things run completely out of control. He probably flipped on MTV, watched lots of music videos, especially by the red-hot Michael Jackson, and did his very best to emulate the look, style and feel. Outside of a very flimsy, almost nonsensical plot, all stops are pulled out in an effort at entertaining at any cost. Say what you want about the film's quality, but even if you think it's terrible, you have to admit it's pretty fun to watch. Guilty pleasure favorite, anyone?
It's a thin and not altogether interesting plot, and I realize no one cares to watch a film called Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo because they think they might be interested in a good story, but for the purists, I shall continue. Somewhere underneath the never-ending music and dance numbers is a story about keeping Shabba-Doo's house for inner city youth from falling into the hands of an entrepreneur who wants to bulldoze it to erect a shopping center in the middle of the community. This would leave the kids nowhere else to go, so obviously they choose to fight the city council's decision to shut it down, but a window of opportunity exists, which calls for $200,000 in necessary repairs.
Obviously, dealing with the story anymore than one has to would be a recipe for certain disaster, so we can all be thankful that a wise decision was made in ignoring it as much as possible at least half of the time. Breakin' 2 rushed out about six months after the release of the first Breakin', which leaves very little time for development of a major motion picture, so if it seems like it's slapped together in haphazard fashion, there's good reason. Basically, it was meant as a cash-in flick, getting it out the door while the dance craze was still hot and the first film was fresh in the minds of the viewers.
Although it's a sequel, the three main stars are about the only significant characters returning from the first film, unless you figure Ice-T or Hot Tot (or whatever the hell that little kid's name is) to be vital to each story. A few artistic liberties are taken, most notably that Kelly (Dickey) is now from rich parents, and apparently has been in some sort of romantic dabblings with Ozone. It's a stretch, but necessary for the ambitious film to work, as there's themes of class battles and prejudices that run throughout the film, although actual racial epithets are completely danced around, so to speak.
So with a thin story, poor plotting, and some questionable acting, you're probably asking yourself why I should be so generous as to give it as many stars as I do (which isn't much, I admit). All I can say is, when the music is on and the dancers are performing, no matter how incredible the scenario or how silly the situation, the inventiveness of breakdancing and the no-boundaries feel of the music video numbers manage to entertain me. I'm not sure the original intent was to make me laugh, but laugh I did, again and again, until I was no longer laughing at the film, but with it. This is not a movie about serious social issues, or even about the characters, but about having a good time. I have to admit, as cheesy as every single frame of Breakin' 2 is, I admired it for what it was trying to accomplish with so little going for it.
So, should you watch it? I would say yes for the following groups of people: (1) if you've seen and liked the first film, (2) if you love musicals, no matter how silly they are, (3) you are a breakdancing historian, or used to breakdance around the time of this film's release, (4) if you love every damn film that exemplifies the 80s, and lastly, and perhaps most importantly, (5) if you love those "so bad their good" films that aren't ashamed in reveling in gratuitous excess.
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo is by no means a good film, but it never really had any intention of being one. Like a street musician, dancer or mime, it's not out to change your life or awe you with artistic significance. It just wants to arrest your attention for a moment, and leave you walking away with a smile. I'll drop a quarter in the hat for that.
©2003 Vince Leo