At the climax of "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo," four earthmovers wheel up to a ghetto community center called "Miracles"; an evil construction contractor plans to demolish it in favor of a shopping mall. The distraught kids look to their leader, Ozone (Adolfo "Shabba Doo" Quinones), and ask, "What are we gonna do?" "I know what we're gonna do," he replies confidently. "Turn on the music."
It's like that moment in the bygone oaters when Gene Autry, before lighting after the desperadoes, paused to sing "I'm Back in the Saddle Again"; whatever charm "Breakin' 2" has lies in the insouciance of its construction -- as in the old movie musicals, the plot is only included to provide occasions to dance. In this sequel to the popular "Breakin,' " all the world's a stage, and all the people merely breakdancers. Kids, old ladies, meter maids, postmen, hospital orderlies, rich or poor, black or white -- everybody's got that boogie fever.
"Breakin' 2" is a sort of "Rebel Without a Choreographer." The story, such as it is, focuses on Kelly (limber Lucinda Dickey); her wealthy father wants her to marry a lawyer and go to Princeton but, you know, gotta dance, so she hangs around with Ozone and his sidekick, Turbo (Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers) instead. When Miracles is condemned, she helps her buddies organize a show to raise the funds for renovation. These kids are so engagingly plucky that even the construction contractor grows enchanted by them.
But if director Sam Firstenberg has a touch for the corny panache of the old musicals, he undercuts the impact of the dance sequences themselves with nervous editing -- he won't let us just watch them cut the rug. You hurtle from dancer to dancer to jump-edited close-ups of hands and feet and gyrating tummies. Such aggressive photography could lend John Candy the grace of Gregory Hines.
And in breakdancing, authenticity is all -- it's attractive because the performers are actual slum dwellers, who pop up unexpectedly on actual urban street corners. Art reverberates within real life. But Firstenberg makes no attempt to recreate a ghetto milieu: he tells us that these are street kids, but they look anything but deprived; the "slums" of "Breakin' 2" are just another soundstage. It makes the movie's considerable preachiness about poor kids pulling themselves up by their Capezio-straps ring hollow. And all this twaddle about how people are more important than dollars, in a sequel that was rushed out by producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus to capitalize on the summertime windfall of "Breakin' " is almost hilarious.
"Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo," opening today at area theaters, is rated PG.