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Honey

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Genre: Showbiz success story

The Pitch: Jessica Alba of the sci-fi show "Dark Angel" plays Honey, a part-time hip-hop dance teacher/bartender who aspires to dance in music videos. (How's that for aiming high?) But will she reach stardom under the wing of a creepy video director (David Moscow) or keep it real with a studly barber (Mekhi Phifer) and some lovable youngsters from the hood?

Money shots: We're meant to be knocked out when Honey first takes the dance floor, but we get a surprisingly brief, over-edited glimpse of moves that look like pelvic thrusts mixed with The Robot and the Heimlich Maneuver. The best dancing comes from young kids, like the head-spinning breakdancer. Alba has a killer smile, but it punctuates her every scene.

Flesh factor: Fly-girl dancers and Honey's "you go" girlfriend Gina (Joy Bryant) wear some skimpy club outfits, but nothing that challenges the PG-13 rating. The film has a double-standard about being sexy, scolding a mean dancer for the kind of booty-shaking that gets Honey first noticed.

Favorite lines: A rival dancer calls Honey "some Section Eight, no-rhythm-havin' club ho." Honey's grade-school pal Raymond (Zachary Williams) explains that he gets to hang with Honey because "I got flow." Honey's lines become increasingly inflated with after-school-special earnestness: "I was countin' on that money -- not for me, for the kids."

Hit single: By showing the action on the sets of various video shoots, Honey plays like an anthology of rising hip-hop acts like Ginuwine, Tweet and Blacque. The most prominent song, Yolanda Adams' "I Believe," accompanies the climactic hip-hop dance concert and will have a long afterlife at pep rallies and motivational retreats.

Pop reference: Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama" opens by sampling the theme of "The Young and the Restless," and when the song accompanies Honey as she walks Raymond home at night, it sounds like an ironic joke. But they're not kidding.

Cameo: Missy Elliott's rapid-fire tantrums give the film some life, but she's barely in it.

The Bottom Line: While no camp classic like Showgirls or Glitter, Honey's embrace of ancient let's-put-on-a-show cliches are good for a laugh. Alba gives a one-note performance -- did she mention that she cares about the kids? -- and you can't tell if she can really dance, but she's easy on the eyes. Honey takes her passion and makes it happen -- you know, like the hottie from Flashdance.

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