Honey (2003 film)

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Honey 2003 film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBille Woodruff
Produced by
Written by
  • Alonzo Brown
  • Kim Watson
Music byMervyn Warren
CinematographyJohn R. Leonetti
Edited by
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.

Benny begins to get in trouble and Honey finds him with a fat lip. He is angry she 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. Since Benny has been out of trouble, BB (the drug dealer he works for) goes to Honey's and threatens her. The barber who did Raymond's hair, Chaz 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, slapping 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 renegs on the video with the kids, showing up on set with Katrina to use the usual exotic cars and scantily clad females.

The kids are heartbroken and Benny starts working for street corner drug dealers, soon landing in juvy. When Honey visits him there, Benny is hostile. As she leaves, she asks him how often his gangster friends visit and he sadly realizes none of his friends have even bothered to visit him once and at least she did. Although Honey is disappointed in him for making bad life choices and being a poor role model for his little brother Raymond, he can achieve his dreams without committing crimes. Benny has mainly disappointed himself for living a life that can get him imprisoned for life or even dead.

Depressed, Honey is relieved when Gina forgives her. She had realized she was trying to ride Honey's coattails and their friendship was worth more. Since the ruined Ginuwine video, money hasn't been coming in 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. Convincing her to just watch her dance, she's not impressed, says Katrina's dance moves are terrible and leaves. Michael crawls back to Honey, begging her to work for him again. When she declines, he offers to buy her the studio. She realizes his artists want her back. Refusing both his apology and help, she will pay for the studio on her own as she now knows her value. She tells Michael he's selfish and arrogant and points out that not only did his selfishness get her fired but has upset 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 is a full house with Honey's parents, Benny and Raymond's mother, Tweet and Honey's boyfriend Chaz in attendance. Everyone is wildly enthusiastic about the performances. Honey's mom finally sees the dance form her daughter loves can give her all that ballet could. The kids bring Honey up to give 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, Billie Woodruff, director of the film, said "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 film a score of 21% based on reviews from 115 critics, with an average rating of 4.2 out of 10. The critical consensus was "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. Flixster. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  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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