Lately, it feels like I’ve had a bit of an axe to grind. Every Yakmala review is a film that is Ruining America so I wanted something that would rekindle the joy found in terrible cinema, preferably by tying in my slavish worship of the ‘80s. Naturally, I turned to a film that nearly everyone has heard of but very few people have seen: the ur-joke sequel, Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo.
Tagline: If you can’t beat the system… break it!
More Accurate Tagline: My community center is being torn down to make a shopping mall. I dance for pennies on the street, and spend all of it on day-glo rags and leather gloves. I have no health insurance and have to go to a hospital staffed entirely by strippers. I am the 99%.
Guilty Party: It would be tempting to blame director Sam Firstenberg, since he also directed Yakmala entry Ninja III: The Domination, but this is clearly the fault of the Cannon Group. Nothing says ‘80s schlock like Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, two men that despite their names, are not intergalactic warlords. No, they are a couple of Israeli producers that apparently decided good taste and restraint were something that happens to other people.
Synopsis: Ever see one of those terrifying photos of Ice-T’s wife Coco in a bikini? Tiny swatches of leopard print lycra heroically straining to contain a spray-tanned avalanche that seems sent entirely by the Lord’s vengeance. Well, if plot is that overmatched bathing suit, Coco’s geographic curves are breakdancing. (Just to be clear, I’m not being a dick. Ice-T appears in this movie playing himself.) Every five minutes or so, the movie descends into a dance number, during which one or more characters makes relentless and borderline threatening eye contact with the camera. It’s like getting stared down by an epileptic glowstick.
Kelly (Lucinda Dickey, also of Ninja III: The Domination) is a rich dancer working on perfecting the perfect sullen white girl sneer. Ozone (Adolfo “Shabba-Doo” Quinones) and Turbo (Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers) are breakdancers and mustache enthusiasts who live in a bizarre shack where the laws of physics are routinely beaten with a mescaline-soaked tire iron. Kelly and Ozone are supposedly in love, but their chaste romance causes even Amish people to be like, “Damn, English, thou couldst use a little tongue. We ain’t Mennonites up in this bitch.”
Kelly is a showgirl I guess, although what sort of show she’s doing in Los Angeles is undetermined. She has the chance to be “the lead” in “a show” in “Paris.” I don’t really know what any of this actually means, and the movie doesn’t think I should care too much. It’s just there so that the overmatched actors can have something to discuss between bouts of popping and locking. Ozone is more concerned that Miracles, a community center/juggalo headquarters, is going to be torn down by a developer. Turbo, adroitly sensing that this is that kind of movie, suggests they put on a show to raise the two hundred thousand dollars necessary to save the place.
With a few hiccups along the way, the kids put on their show. They would come up short, if not for Kelly’s rich parents having a convenient third act change of opinion, and kicking in the last bit of cash. Miracles is saved!
Life-Changing Subtext: No matter how hard you work, no matter how passionately you believe in something, you will fail unless a rich person bails you out at the last minute. That’s officially the most realistic subtext of any Yakmala film so far!
Defining Quote: Kelly: “Let’s turn these fooooools out.” It’s impossible to really hammer home just how Caucasian Kelly sounds when she says this. Suffice it to say, that this line delivery spontaneously caused Mitt Romney and Justin Bieber to spring into existence.
Standout Performance: There’s no delicate way to put this, so I’m going to come right out and say it: Miracles has an in-house mime. Called “Magician” for no reason I can determine, this mime mostly lurks silently in the background doing inexplicable things. And no one seems to have a problem with this freak. Guys, work it out. He’s a sex offender. Find an adult.
What’s Wrong: This movie is like a time machine made out of bad decisions. But then, that’s the time that spawned this as a quickie cash in sequel to Breakin’. First off, a movie about breakdancing was so successful that the producers made a sequel in the same calendar year, so this was a different, much more fluorescent time. Secondly, this film has some of the same issues with sincerity that I often encounter in After School Specials. Everything, from grown men wearing eye-searing pink belly shirts, to the plight of inner-city mimes, is treated without even the barest hint of a wink to the audience.
Flash of Competence: …which is also the film’s Flash of Competence. Sometimes my insufferable generation of hipster douchebags gets something wrong. And I’m not just talking about worshiping the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Sincerity isn’t always the death knell of meaning. Granted, this is a ridiculous movie, a trifle so light it could function as some kind of gravity shielding on some of the more flamboyant space stations out there, but there is something refreshing about its wide-eyed innocence.
Best Scenes: A crew of evil breakdancers (yes, that’s a thing) tries to provoke the heroic Miracles breakdancers into a dance contest. Earlier, Ozone refused, not wanting to waste his moves. This makes sense, because the last thing you want to do before a big show is use up the body’s supply of breakdancing. The evil breakdancers eventually succeed, and some aggressive popping and locking breaks out, though it’s impossible to really tell who’s winning until the bad guys retreat suddenly. Ozone rules it a TKO, although these are clearly not Marquess of Queensberry rules.
In a minor, third act complication, Turbo winds up in the hospital after falling down some stairs. And unlike Bella’s excuse for her broken limbs, Turbo actually fell down a flight of stairs! The whole gang comes to visit the fallen breakdancer, and predictably a giant dance routine breaks out (I love that I get to write that). What makes this great is that not all the patients seem willing or able to dance. They seem terrified that a rainbow coalition of maniacs is ravaging the hospital, forcing everyone to feel the groove of the streets. Or else.
Transcendent Moment: Turbo falls in love with a young latina (apparently named Lucia, though in my notes I just referred to her as chica) who speaks no English and generally responds to him in baffled Spanish. A better movie would have subtitled her and given her genuinely funny lines, but whatever. Turbo asks Ozone for help in wooing the chica, which, because this is Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, turns into a dance number.
Propped up in the corner of the shack, there’s a life-sized doll. With real hair. Somehow that makes it so much worse. Are they fucking it? Using it to hide trophies from their killing spree? It’s unclear. Anyway, Ozone grabs the thing to demonstrate how to dance. As the scene progresses, each guy hallucinates the doll as the girl he likes. This results in them jealously playing tug of war, tearing her limb from limb, then deciding, what the hell, let’s just dance together. If I were Kelly and the chica, I would never, ever come between Turbo and Ozone.
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo is a movie where everyone dresses like a male prostitute. Even the women. Because that was what was manly back then. Some part of me is convinced that the makers knew this was not a good film, if only for the extra who shows up several times wearing a Tor Johnson mask. For those who don’t know, Johnson was a wrestler-turned-wrestler who kinda sorta acted in Ed Wood movies. Drawing that connection implies that maybe, just maybe, they knew that this film would be hilarious in twenty-five years.