Beat the World (a.k.a., You Got Served: Beat the World)

Author: Robert Adetuyi
Genre: Drama/Dance
Storyline: 3
Dialogue: 4
Characterization: 3
Writer’s Potential: 4

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Recommendation?

Pass

Logline:

Four dance groups from around the world convene in Detroit to compete in an international dance contest.

Synopsis:

JUSTIN (19, white) runs through the mean streets of Windsor, Ontario, pursued by YUSON (20, black). Justin’s agile and quick, but so is Yuson, and he’s bigger. They climb up a fire escape to a rooftop, and just as Yuson’s about to catch up with him — it turns out they’re buddies, meeting up with their crew of hip-hop dancers, among them EASY (black, well-built) and CHERRY (black, good-looking). Off to the side is MAYA, Yuson’s girlfriend. Yuson likes the moves Justin is coming up with for the group, but the others are uncertain. Yuson wants them to focus on the Beat the World competition, which they’ll only win if they give audiences moves they’ve never seen before. The rest of the group, especially Easy, thinks Justin’s moves are too crazy and difficult. Before leaving, Maya reminds Yuson to pick her up. As they kiss, Cherry feels a tinge of jealousy. In Cancun, CARLOS and OLIVIA (both 20s) dance with their crew at a restaurant. They integrate hip-hop beats and moves into traditional mariachi dancing, annoying the owner of the restaurant, ALEJANDRO. After they perform, the crew entrusts Carlos with 90,000 pesos to buy airline tickets and book hotels for Beat the World. In Berlin, ERIC (Swedish, 20, cocky) interrupts a lovemaking session to meet up with his crew. NINA, Eric’s ex-girlfriend, is part of the crew, and there’s still some bad blood between them, made even worse by the crew voting to put Nina in charge instead of Eric. In Tokyo, RITSUKI (21, handsome) and MISHA (21, beautiful) lead their crew in a rehearsal. Later, during a make-out session, Misha complains about Ritsuki’s treatment of her, hiding her from his strict, wealthy parents. Ritsuki tries to placate her, but Misha’s fed up.

Maya waits for Yuson, who doesn’t pick her up when he’s supposed to. Eventually, she’s forced to call a cab. Yuson’s with his crew, in a heavy freestyle competition with some local street dancers. Afterward, the crew discusses their excitement to go across the border to Detroit for the contest. Easy reminds Yuson of his commitment to Maya. Yuson rushes over to Maya’s house. She angrily breaks up with Yuson. She tells him she’s transferring to a college across the country. Yuson returns to his crew with the bad news. Cherry is pleased to hear this. Ritsuki meets Misha at the dance studio. She tells him she’s pregnant. Ritsuki has no idea how to handle this news. He wants to be supportive, but he still doesn’t know what to tell his parents, and now that she’s pregnant, it’s even harder for him. Misha angrily suggests she’ll raise the baby alone. Carlos goes to a sports bar, where he meets his friend, MARCUS. Marcus is concentrating intently on a soccer game — Los Angeles versus Argentina. Marcus thinks it’s easy money, because L.A. is favored but Argentina will clearly win. Agreeing, Carlos puts up all 90,000 pesos for Argentina. They lose. Feeling the pressure, Carlos goes to a loan shark, JORGE. Carlos has no collateral, but he says once they win the dance contest, he’ll have the money to pay Jorge back, and then some. Jorge refuses, then makes Carlos an offer: the money he needs, plus 50,000 more, to carry a “package” to Detroit with him. Left with no choice, Carlos accepts. Meanwhile, his crew talks behind his back about the possibility of him spending all their money. Carlos arrives with their plane tickets and hotel reservations.

The respective crews arrive at the Grand Hotel in Detroit. Carlos is terrified to discover he picked up the wrong bag. He panics, confusing the rest of the crew. They think it’s stress. Yuson practices alone. Cherry stops by and watches him. Cherry makes her move, but Yuson rebuffs it, opting to continue practicing. Ritsuki tells Misha he called his parents long-distance to tell them about the relationship. She gets upset when he says he plans to ease into the pregnancy thing later. Justin, Yuson, and Easy wait in a long line to get checked in for the competition. Justin speculates that they’re waiting in the wrong line. He sees another one that’s much shorter but clearly filled with dancers. Yuson explains that’s the line for people with sponsors. Among them is Eric and Nina’s crew. Yuson tells the others that they’re “Fusion,” last year’s champions. Easy challenges Eric, but Eric smugly insults their crew. Easy catches sight of Olivia and thinks she’s interested. The others think he’s out of his mind, which distracts Easy long enough for Olivia to leave. Later, after they’ve registered and are getting ready backstage, Easy makes definite eye contact with Olivia. She smiles. Her crew performs, with Carlos making mistakes that go unnoticed to everyone except his crew. A montage follows of the various other crews performing.

When Yuson’s group perform, Nina notes that they’re good, but Eric says they’re not good enough. Olivia catches the performance and congratulates Easy. He introduces himself properly. Yuson watches with concern. After apologizing to his crew, Carlos goes back to his room and finds it occupied by KIRILL and NIKOLAI, two muscular Russian mobsters. The next day, Carlos’s crew practices and he falls when attempting a flip. The crew is disappointed, but Carlos gets defensive. Maya calls Yuson. Yuson mistakes her extending the olive branch of friendship for a sign that she wants to get back together. May insists that it’s over, angering Yuson. He calls Cherry. She comes over to his apartment, and they fool around briefly, but Yuson is racked with guilt and sends her away. At the same time, Maya feels guilty, so she drives to his apartment. She catches Cherry on the stairs. Cherry alludes to a booty cool, enraging Maya. She goes out dancing at a club — the same club where Yuson and his crew are hanging out. She dances with Eric in front of Yuson, then leaves. Eric falls her out. Meanwhile, Easy finds Olivia at the club and takes her off so they can hang out alone. Outside the club, Eric gets a little too fresh. Yuson comes outside and gets into a fistfight with Eric. Yuson offers to take Maya home. Easy invites Olivia back to his place. She playfully agrees. Later that night, Eric goes to Nina’s hotel room, saying he needed to see her. Nina sees his fresh blackeye and assumes he got in a fight over a girl. Angry, she sends him away.

The next morning, Carlos is pacing outside Olivia’s hotel room. She bounds down the hall, and he unloads on her. She asks what his problem is, so Carlos confesses about the drugs and the Russian mobsters and says he was afraid they killed her. He tells Olivia he talked them into waiting until they win the contest, at which time he can pay them the $70,000 he owes. Olivia’s enraged, but she agrees to help him — by first telling the crew exactly what happened, so they can all work together to find a solution. Yuson calls Maya. She says she appreciates what he did for her, but it’s clear he’s moved on. Yuson’s baffled, so Maya tells him to ask Cherry to explain it to him. Yuson’s even more baffled. Easy shows up early to practice to tell Yuson what happened with Olivia the previous night. Yuson warns him to be careful; he assumes she wants nothing more than a green card. When Cherry shows up, Yuson asks her about what Maya said. Cherry says she doesn’t know — maybe she saw the way they dance together and got jealous.

Olivia sees Kirill and Nikolai down the hall. She’s about to call the police when somebody knocks loudly at the door. It’s Easy. When Olivia lets him in, she sees the Russians are gone. Easy asks what’s wrong with her. Olivia spills everything about Carlos. Easy asks her to take him to Carlos, so they can figure out what to do. Carlos is angry that Olivia told Easy. Easy tries to strategize, but they’re interrupted by a phone call. The airport found his luggage and had it sent to the hotel. A bellhop arrives with the bag moments later. Carlos checks to make sure the drugs are still there. They are. Olivia snatches them and dumps them in the toilet, enraging Carlos, who now has no clue what to do. Fortunately, Easy has a plan. Carlos waits on a dingy street for Kirill and Nikolai. Just as he’s about to hand off some sort of powder, two sedans squeal down the street. Thinking they’ve been made, the Russians run away, telling Carlos to get rid of the drugs. They hop in their car and ride off, leaving Carlos to take the fall. It turns out the sedan drivers are friends of Easy’s. They offer him a ride.

Later that day, the crews prepare for the finals, but Easy’s nowhere to be found. Eric and Nina’s crew performs. When Easy shows up with Carlos, Yuson’s suspicious and irritated. He demands that Easy stay focused. Easy tells Yuson that if he ever thought about anyone but himself, he’d still have Maya. Yuson tries calling Maya, but she doesn’t pick up. Later, Easy apologizes, but Yuson knows he was right. Yuson explains what happened with Maya. Easy says they have an hour before they go on. If he hurries, he can find Maya, talk to her, and then get back before they get on. Yuson rushes out. He tries to convince Maya that Cherry was lying, but Maya won’t believe it. In a huff, Yuson leaves. Before they go on, Ritsuki brings in his parents to talk to Misha. Misha is surprised when MRS. YAMAMOTO gives her a good luck charm for the baby. Both parents know, and both are excited. Ritsuki and Misha’s crew perform. Justin asks Easy where Yuson went as Carlos and Olivia’s group takes the stage. Easy watches, mesmerized. Cherry makes fun of him, so Easy snaps at her for ruining things between Yuson and Maya. Cherry calls Maya and tells her the truth. Yuson’s car stalls on his way back. He freestyle-runs his way through the city, bruising his ankle along the way, and barely making it before the stage manager force his crew on stage. They dance wildly. Afterward, Maya greets Yuson lovingly and apologizes for doubting him. Eric also apologizes to Yuson and Maya. The MC has the top crews all battle each other in a freestyle competition. Afterward, he announces the winners: Heat Wave, Yuson, Justin, Easy, and Cherry’s crew. The crews all dance together.

Comments:

Beat the World exists solely to string together energetic dance sequences. In that respect, it succeeds; in every other way, it fails. The characters exist to make audiences care about the dance sequences and the stakes of the contest, but the generic conflicts and ridiculous subplots don’t amount to much. As written, the script merits a pass.

The story’s overarching plot — the dance competition — amounts to very little. The script focuses on subplots involving each of the dance groups, so which group wins the contest never matters. There’s a lot of gentle ribbing between groups, but the dance competition lacks conflict and stakes. It merely exists as a backdrop for dance sequences. The subplots range from generic (Yuson’s relationship problems) to laughable (Carlos’s problems with drug dealers) to virtually nonexistent (Eric and Nina). They do very little to create a sense of drama, and the third act resolves every problem much too easily.

The characters don’t fare much better. They’re a likable group, but that’s part of the problem. The script lacks conflict because everyone’s a good guy who just has some minor relationship problems. Nobody has a problem relating to dancing ability or whether or not they’ll win the contest. The sole exception is Carlos, but his subplot is presented so sloppily that, although he’s the script’s only three-dimensional character, he comes across like little more than a cog in an unwieldy machine.

Of course, the script is nothing but a clothesline for dance numbers. If they’re choreographed and performed well, and directed with high energy, audiences will likely overlook the narrative problems and simply enjoy the dancing.

Posted by D. B. Bates on April 30, 2009 1:02 PM