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  Body Rock Call That Dancing?
Year: 1984
Director: Marcelo Epstein
Stars: Lorenzo Lamas, Vicki Frederick, Cameron Dye, Michelle Nicastro, Ray Sharkey, Seth Kaufman, Rene Elizondo, Adolph 'Oz' Alvarez, Joseph Whipp, Grace Zabriskie, Tony Ganios, Carole Ita White, Ellen Gerstein, Russ Clark, Robin Menken, Mark Sellers
Genre: Drama, MusicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Body Rock Crew are a group of breakdancers, rappers and graffiti artists who enjoy hanging around in New York City, bustin' moves at random for their own entertainment, even holding up traffic when the mood to perform takes them. They are led by Chilly (Lorenzo Lamas) who fancies his chances at a career in entertainment, and the evenings they show off their skills in a local nightclub have drawn some attention from players in the music industry. Someone who has drawn attention from Chilly is Darlene (Michelle Nicastro) who is the sister of one of his crew, and it looks as if they may be happy together if he's truly sincere about romancing her, but who knows what could happen if he actually does realise his dreams? There's always a catch...

Just as rock 'n' roll had bred cash-in movies in the nineteen-fifties, hip-hop culture did the same in the eighties, and one subset of those was the breakdancing movie. There were not a whole load of them dedicated to the activity, and the most famous entries in that vein were Cannon's Breakin' films, but there were others, such as the cultier Beat Street and this, New World's attempt at bettering their rivals which went on to be regarded as more or less the worst of them. For a start, Lorenzo Lamas was seriously miscast, for he may have been able to singlehandedly take on a bunch of bad guys in his low budget action efforts later in the decade (and beyond), but a breakdancer he was not. Neither was he a rapper nor a singer, but that's how he was presented here.

Therefore you have a leading man who was just not up to the job, a drawback to a work extolling the virtues of precisely those media, but in this case has gone on to render Body Rock as something to treasure for bad movie aficionados. Another drawback was there simply was no decent music in it aside from the earworm title track sing by Maria Vidal (who does not appear in this, missed opportunity there unless she got wind of how dreadful it was and kept as far away from it as possible), so what you had to tap your foot to was a selection of samey, tinny eighties pop rather than the sort of hip-hop that might have made it worthwhile, or at least a fair representation. As it was, all you got was a very corporate take, betraying its aims for pure exploitation.

The impression you had was that those involved had seen what a boost for disco Saturday Night Fever had been, or it could have been the other way around, but anyway Lamas was clearly being set up as the new John Travolta, in image if not lifestyle. This translated to his Chilly character being such a moron that you imagine he wears clothes with his name on them because he'd forget it otherwise, performing mushmouthed raps and singing in much the same way, dropping his pals like a hot potato when he is earmarked for stardom by a conniving agent (Ray Sharkey), seeing a trashy but famous (in the context of the movie) singer called Claire (Vicki Frederick) as the epitome of glamour and desirability, so bye bye hospital receptionist Darlene, and so forth, and that's without mentioning his embarrassing attempts at, uh, breakin'.

The director was Marcelo Epstein, making his sole outing at the helm of a feature film though he had become a name in the world of music videos hence the habit of Body Rock of bursting out into a reasonable facsimile of an hour and a half of MTV (eighties style) with some troublesome dialogue exchanges mixed among the singing and dancing. There was only one of these musical parts which was visually innovative, the sequence where everything is lit up in fluorescent fashion in a darkened studio, which does look pretty good, but the rest was shown up by a couple of minutes of an actual crew demonstrating how an expert breakdances, cutting a rug on the lino so to speak, which renders the rest of the movie ridiculous that anyone would consider Chilly the next big thing. Throw in a little kid who may not be brilliant but is still better than the leading man, and you had a farce where the clothes may be the most interesting aspect, not because they were any good, but the opposite of that. Say this for it, however, that theme does lodge itself in the brain. Music by Sylvester Levay.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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