Picks and Pans Review: Breakin'

UPDATED 06/04/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/04/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

Hollywood has jumped on the break-dancing bandwagon, feet churning frenetically if not with an impeccable sense of rhythm. Backed by Israeli producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus—their credits include Revenge of the Ninja and The Wicked Lady—this film takes the ghetto dance scene that was so beautifully depicted in last year's low-budget Wild Style and attempts to glitz it up, a la Flashdance. Set in Los Angeles, the story follows a jazz dancer, played by Solid Gold chorine Lucinda Dickey, who is trying to break into legitimate theater. She meets a pair of street performers, real-life breakers (or "lockers" in L.A. jargon) Adolfo "Shabba-Doo" Quinones and Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers. Lucinda likes their style; they like hers. The rest is predictable: They stick together and conquer a lecherous dance instructor as well as a snobby group of moguls. Yet the music—by such people as Al Jarreau and Rufus—is slick, and the dancing is vibrant, often spectacular. Dickey does all her own legwork and ingratiatingly combines an Elizabeth McGovern innocence with Sheena Easton sexiness. In more ways than one, she's among the freshest faces to hit the screen in quite some time—"fresh" is also street-dance lingo for "terrific." Quinones and Chambers are a funny, likable pair, although at times they come across as a couple of ghettoized Hardy Boys who don't ever get very far beyond calling each other "knucklehead." Overall, in fact, the film is if anything too restrained: It never quite manages to capture the real passion and energy of the streets. Even a love relationship between Dickey and Quinones is only hinted at, making it seem that Israeli director Joel Silberg and his three screenwriters have shied away from anything as potentially controversial as an interracial romance. Perhaps they'll get to it in the already announced sequel, Electric Boogaloo. Breakin' is harmless entertainment—nice, but hardly "fresh." (PG)

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