Sidney Poitier…Academy award winning actor, author, diplomat. Oh, and we mustn’t forget: director of a 80’s breakdance movie. You read me right! Poitier has actually directed many films including Uptown Saturday Night, Hanky Panky, Stir Crazy and Ghost Dad. In 1984 there was a wave of breakdance themed films including Breakin’, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Beat Streat, and Body Rock. In early 85, came Poitier’s attempt to keep moviegoers poppin’ and lockin’…Fast Forward.
The story centers on a group of 27-year-old high school students from Sandusky, OH. Michael Stafford (Blair Underwood clone Don Franklin) is the leader, musical genius and choreographer of the group. His buddy Matt Sherman (John Scott Clough) is the lyricist and pseudo manager. Along with six lovely young dancers they call themselves “The Adventurous Eight.” Unknown to all their parents, they are about to head to New York City for a huge open audition that an elderly record company exec invited them to months ago.
Unfortunately, when they arrive in the Big Apple they learn that the exec they met a few months ago is now deceased. His replacement (Sam McMurray) has no interest in these Ohio kids. However, he agrees to see them after he returns from a three-week business trip. Problem is, our heroes have very little cash…certainly not enough to live on for three weeks. Leave it to Matt, though. He has the group sneak into a convention at a fancy hotel and perform while the attendees eat dinner. The thrilled diners give the group cash on the spot just like they had their hats out on the street. Apparently the thought of, oh I don’t know, calling the cops never crossed the mind of the hotel manager.
Even with this success, the group takes to performing on the street, which leads to a confrontation with a break dancing group who don’t like these guys performing on their turf. A big dance battle ensues at a local club. Still, the street gig catches the attention of a wealthy girl named Susan Granger (Karen Kopins). She hires the group to perform at a party and starts snuggling up to Matt. Too bad he’s already dating one of the dancers. This doesn’t thrill Susan’s mother either, who uses her influence to keep the group from getting the audition they’ve been waiting for. Now the group has to fight their way into the audition and make their dreams come true.
I think Sidney Poitier is probably the last person in the world I would’ve expected to direct a film like this. I guess I usually associate Poitier with very intelligent roles and there are not really any of those in this film. The general storyline is pretty silly, and it isn’t helped by some huge gaps in logic. I mean, first of all, what are eight high school students doing going off to New York City all on their own in the first place? Then when they decide they need to stay for several weeks, they get themselves an apartment. The place is a dump, so what do they do? They go and spent a ton of money on cleaning supplies, paint, furniture, etc. Just a few minutes ago they barely had enough dough to feed eight mouths, and now they’re headin’ down to IKEA!
I will say that there are some impressive dance moves on display here, especially from the ladies (Tamara Mark, Tracy Silver, Cindy McGee, Gretchen Palmer, Monique Cintron, and Debra Varnado). For that matter, the ladies are much more interesting characters than the two guys are. In the scenes where the dancing takes center stage, the ladies definitely outshine the two male leads. Though there is a built in goofiness to a dance battle sequence, these ladies make it entertaining.
In many ways, Fast Forward is a bit too silly to recommend. However, the dancing sequences provide a fun 80’s time capsule. Now, what would’ve been awesome would’ve been seeing Mr. Poitier himself out there bustin’ a move.