Arriving eight years after the original Honey with director Bille Woodruff still at the helm, this flat-footed dance sequel doesn’t boast a single original move.
Honey 2 high-kicks and somersaults from one predictable set piece to the next as a fiercely independent ingenue overcomes adversity to find her calling in the spotlight.
The ramshackle plot, thrown carelessly together by writers Alyson Fouse and Blayne Weaver, creaks almost as loudly as the painfully wooden performances led by the remarkably inexpressive Katerina Graham.
When she is lost in music and the film’s lacklustre choreography, the pretty actress has grace and strength, which both desert her every time she opens her mouth.
Bizarrely, Graham has a hilariously ungainly running action that would shame even Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.
Her gym-toned co-stars have clearly been chosen for their gymnastic abilities while Woodruff gradually builds to the obligatory climactic dance-off.
Unfortunately, at the one moment when the film needs a daring and outlandish choreographic flourish to get the audience on its feet, Honey 2 stumbles and we find ourselves rooting for the heroine’s rivals instead.
The sequel opens in Brooklyn Juvenile Detention Centre, where Maria Ramirez (Katerina Graham) wiles away the hours in dance battles with the other detainees.
Released into the care of Connie Daniels (Lonette McKee), Maria finds herself drifting back towards bad boy Luis (Christopher ‘War’ Martinez), whose 718 crew are vying to retain their title on the televised Dance Battle Zone hosted by Mario Lopez.
When it becomes clear that Luis will just drag her down again, Maria attempts to forge a new path by working in the convenience store owned by Mr Kapoor (Gerry Bednob).
She also aligns herself with blonde adonis Brandon (Randy Wayne) and his ungainly dance crew comprising mother hen Lyric (Brittany Perry-Russell), impressionable Tina (Seychelle Gabriel), flirty sex bomb Carla (Melissa Molinaro) and double-act Darnell (Tyler Nelson) and Ricky (Casper Smart).
As the televised heats begin, Maria faces her biggest test: to keep her new crew together and ignore the taunts from Luis and the 718.
Honey 2 doesn’t deliver anything we haven’t seen with considerable more polish in StreetDance or the Step Up films.
Maria’s romance with Brandon is unintentionally hilarious.
“Look at me, like I’m the only girl in this world,” she coos, clearly taking romantic advice from the lyrics of Rihanna’s latest album.
“I’ve been doing that since the first moment I saw you,” he purrs back with a look of dreamy abandon that might well be actor Wayne switching off and mentally recalling what he needs to buy from the supermarket after the cameras stop rolling.
The soundtrack of pulsating dance floor fillers turns up the temperature a notch to tepid.
By Damon Smith
:: NO SWEARING :: NO SEX :: VIOLENCE :: RATING: 4/10
Released: June 10 (UK & Ireland), 112 mins