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By Doug Brunell | November 17, 2009

I went into this documentary knowing next to nothing about b-boying (break dancing). I knew a lot of it looked neat, but little else. This film changed all that and gave me an entirely new respect for the art form. Yes, I said art form.

“Planet B-Boy” is not just a film about people with funny names doing strange dances. It’s about the history and future of b-boying. It’s about the personalities behind various dance crews from around the world and what motivates them to win the Battle of the Year, where all these crews come together to put on a show. And what a show it is for the ten thousand in attendance. This is where the best of the best come to compete for a small monetary prize. The prestige that comes with a first place win is enough to catapult a crew into commercials, events, and world travel. It also is a source of incredible pride.

The bonds that these crews form, the passion they all share, and the philosophy that drives them are on display in this truly interesting and vibrant film. I don’t think I’ve seen a dance documentary make its subject more compelling, human, and populist than this one. That’s no mean feat, as b-boying is not the most respected of dance forms and its connection to hip-hop instantly brings to mind thuggery, women’s jewelry, and empty boasting. That’s not really in effect here. Instead, these dancers seem like regular people with a fascinating talent.

My daughter, who is five, fell in love with this film, too, and made me promise to mention that in my review. (She loved the Phase-T crew from France and thought the young boy on the team did a great job despite the judge’s opinions. In turn, she thinks the judges are “poop.”) It’s the first time she’s done that, so I feel the need to keep my promise, and it shows that “Planet B-Boy” is accessible to all with a subject matter that seems exclusive from the outset. Simply amazing.

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