I feel like a meanie for disliking Bryn Evans’ sweet doc Hip Hop-eration, but alas, the film is a missed opportunity and about as deep as a viral video.
The trick with a film this pop culturally topical is figuring out how to expand on its concept. Let’s look at it from the opposite view: Alive Inside and Bridegroom are two documentaries that started as viral videos and learned how to fill feature length shoes (for the most part). Alive Inside, a film chronicling the amazing feat of music jumpstarting the human mind and body, knew how to develop a thesis and used it to build an astonishing case. Bridegroom took its story of a heartbreaking same-sex romance and issued additional details about how the lovers developed their relationship and the aftermath that followed a horrific accident.
Hip Hop-eration, a film about an elderly hip-hop dance troupe of the same name and their sunshiny manager Billie Jordan, keeps matters fluffy and cute which is fine, except it doesn’t budge from there. The doc wears its charm on its sleeve and prides itself with that sort of quirk that is ingrained in New Zealand culture. The audience receives intimate sights of the eager senior citizens learning routines as well as backstories with individual nonagenarians; all of who provide touching moments towards Hip Hop-eration’s wholesome intentions as the dancers prepare for a performance at the World Hip Hop Dance Champions in Las Vegas.
For those looking for an unchallenging film and are already smiling from reading that synopsis, you may still find yourself wanting more from Bryn Evans’ doc. Viral videos work because they are condensed entertainment and make us feel different emotions within a matter of minutes. When you take that approach and stretch it over 90 minutes, an audience can’t help but feel like there’s more heart to this story that the filmmaker clumsily overlooked or purposely avoided.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie