Honey (2003 film)

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Honey 2003 film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBille Woodruff
Written by
  • Alonzo Brown
  • Kim Watson
Produced by
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited by
Music byMervyn Warren
NuAmerica Entertainment
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 5, 2003 (2003-12-05)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$18 million[1]
Box office$62.2 million[1]

Honey is a 2003 American dance film directed by Billie Woodruff and stars Jessica Alba, Mekhi Phifer, Romeo Miller, Joy Bryant, David Moscow, with featured performances by Tweet, Jadakiss and Ginuwine and a cameo by Missy Elliott.


Honey Daniels works as a bartender, a record store clerk and a dance teacher at a community center run by her mother in NYC. Her dream is to become a hip hop choreographer even though her mother presses her to teach ballet Uptown.

When Honey hits the dance floor after her shift at the club where her rival Katrina performs, they are recorded having a dance off. Honey and friend Gina leave the club, finding brothers Benny and Raymond street dancing with other kids. Honey invites them to attend her classes at the community center to inspire new moves.

The video from the club reaches music video director Michael Ellis, who gives Honey a job as a backup dancer in Jadakiss' new video. Unimpressed with his current choreographer, Michael asks Honey to take over. Soon, she is choreographing for Tweet, Sheek Louch, and Shawn Desman. Honey's new choreography career brings her money, fame and freedom, but takes her away from the center and the kids in the neighborhood. Continually working for Michael leads her to Ginuwine's new video.

One day, Honey goes outside and finds Raymond on her building’s doorstep. He tells Honey that Benny hasn’t been going to school lately and got into an altercation with their mother’s boyfriend, which led to him hitting Benny and busting his lip. She then asks Raymond has their mother’s boyfriend ever hit him and he denies it. They then go to look for Benny and, after a while, finally find him at a Chinese restaurant. Benny is angry that Honey hasn't been around and lashes out. She offers him a job as her assistant in the coming week for Tweet's video if he keeps out of trouble. Meanwhile, she convinces Michael to use the kids she teaches in Ginuwine's new video as a fresh take. With Benny keeping his word to stay out of trouble, his drug dealer boss BB goes to Honey's place and threatens her. Chaz, the barber who did Raymond's hair, intervenes, backing BB off. She begins to date Chaz and he inspires her to focus on what makes her happy and not on the fame. She finds an old store she can turn into a dance studio and puts down a hefty deposit.

Honey has to cancel plans to take Gina to Atlantic City for her birthday, as Michael tells her there is an important meeting they can not miss. However, it is actually an exclusive party for networking, and he drunkenly hits on her. She refuses his advances, slaps him, and leaves. Gina is furious when she sees a photo of Honey in the paper being kissed by Michael at the party she claimed was work. On the day of the Ginuwine shoot, Michael retaliates against Honey's rejection by reneging on the video with the kids and firing her, showing up on set with Katrina to use the usual exotic cars and scantily clad females.

The kids are heartbroken and Benny returns to drug dealing, soon landing in juvy after being busted by an undercover officer. When Honey visits him there, Benny acts hostile, insulting her profusely, and telling her to leave him alone. She obliges, but before leaving, asks him how often his gangster friends visit him. Benny becomes heartbroken by this question as he realizes that none of his "friends" have bothered to visit him once, and that his mother and brother haven't visited either due to their disappointment in his bad decisions; he then realizes why Honey cared so much to see him. Benny also sees that Honey is disappointed in him for making bad life choices and being a poor example to Raymond, and that he has mainly disappointed himself for living a life that could get him imprisoned for life or even dead. He finally begins to realize that he can accomplish his hopes and dreams without committing crimes and that he can do so much better with his life.

Depressed over these recent events, Honey is relieved when Gina forgives her, having realized she was trying to ride Honey's coattails and that their friendship is worth more. However, Honey's problems continue: since the ruined Ginuwine video, money hasn't been coming in due to Michael blackballing Honey throughout the industry and the remainder of the down payment needs to be paid, or the store will go back on the market. Honey decides to hold a dance benefit at an abandoned church and Benny (released from juvie) brings his dance friends to help.

Hired to direct a new video for Missy Elliott, Michael pushes Katrina as choreographer, but she only wants Honey. Even after he convinces her to just watch Katrina dance, she's not impressed, says Katrina's sexy dance moves are not for her and leaves. Michael crawls back to Honey, begging her to work for him again. When she declines, he offers to buy her the studio. Realizing that his artists want her back, she refuses both his apology and help, declaring that she will pay for the studio on her own as she now knows her true value. She tells Michael off for his selfishness and arrogance and points out that not only did he fire and blackball her purely out of pettiness, but he also upset and hurt her students who were hoping to be dancers in the Ginuwine video.

Gina talks to the bank manager, who calls some local arts community donors to attend. The benefit consequently is a full house with Honey's parents, Benny and Raymond's mother, Tweet and Honey's boyfriend Chaz in attendance. Everyone becomes wildly enthusiastic about the performances, and Honey's mom finally sees the dance form her daughter loves can give her all that ballet could. The kids bring Honey up, giving her recognition for all she has done and the bank manager assures Honey the building is fully funded.

Missy Elliott arrives as the benefit finishes, rushing in to meet Honey in person. As the credits roll, we watch Missy introduce the R&B group Blaque to Honey at her new dance studio, The Bronx Dance Center to prepare their new video.


A number of popular hip hop and R&B musicians, groups and producers play themselves in prominent cameos, including Missy Elliott, Jadakiss, Sheek Louch, Shawn Desman, Ginuwine, Rodney Jerkins, 3rd Storee, Tweet, and Blaque.


The film is inspired by the life of choreographer Laurieann Gibson, who was the film's choreographer and appeared on screen as Katrina, the main character's rival.[2][3]

Singer/actress Aaliyah was reportedly originally cast as Honey, though the role was later recast to Jessica Alba due to Aaliyah's death in August 2001.[4] However, in 2020, director Bille Woodruff debunked the rumor, stating: "That’s incorrect. It was supposed to be Beyoncé. That’s been widely reported but it’s incorrect, [Beyoncé] couldn’t do it because of her touring schedule for her first album Dangerously in Love."[5]


Critical response[edit]

Honey was released to mostly negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 21% based on reviews from 116 critics, with an average rating of 4.20/10. The critical consensus reads, "An attractive Jessica Alba and energetic dance numbers provide some lift to this corny and formulaic movie".[6] Metacritic, based on 30 reviews, gives the film a score of 37 out of 100, signifying generally unfavorable reviews.[7]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times was one of the critics to give the film a positive review, noting that it "brings out the wholesome, affirmative side of the hip-hop aesthetic without being overly preachy, although it will not impress anyone with its originality."[8]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #2 at the U.S. box office, earning US$12.9 million in its opening weekend, behind The Last Samurai. The final box office was $30.3 million in the U.S. and Canada and $31.9 million in other countries, for a total of $62.2 million worldwide.[1]


A soundtrack containing Hip Hop, R&B, Funk and Disco music was released on November 11, 2003 by Elektra Records. It peaked at #105 on the Billboard 200 and #47 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts.


Bille Woodruff, the director of Honey, also directed three sequels, the theatrically released Honey 2 (2011) and two straight-to-video sequels Honey 3: Dare to Dance (2016) and Honey: Rise Up and Dance (2018), each with different casts.


  1. ^ a b c "Honey (2003)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  2. ^ Vena, Jocelyn (2011-04-08). "Laurieann Gibson Says 'The Dance Scene' Is Not Just A Dance Show". MTV. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  3. ^ Morris, Wesley (2003-12-05). "Simple and sweet 'Honey' lacks substance". Boston.com. The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  4. ^ "SIGHT: Honey (2003)". torque. SPH Magazines. July 2008. p. 103. ISSN 0218-7868. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  5. ^ "'Honey' Director Puts To Rest The Rumors Aaliyah Was Going To Star In Film, Says Beyoncé Was Supposed To Instead". shadowandact.com.
  6. ^ "Honey". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  7. ^ "Honey". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  8. ^ Scott, A. O. (2003-12-05). "FILM REVIEW; She's Aiming for the Stars, With Feet Planted in the Bronx". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-08-02.

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