Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Stills from the mothership of my generation's longest-running joke

When I was 14 years old and living in Florida, a movie that changed everything about American comedy hit theaters. That film was Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, and it debuted on December 21, 1984. It only made $15 million at the box office. It did not win any Oscars. But, thanks to its amazing subtitle, it has had more ongoing fame than any other movie released in that fateful month.1 And its lasting impact upon our pop culture can stand proudly alongside such other 1984 films as The Terminator, Ghostbusters, Red Dawn, Sixteen Candles and This Is Spinal Tap.

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo's IMDb.com trivia section describes the movie's legacy succinctly: "The phrase 'Electric Boogaloo' has become a common unofficial sub-title for any unnecessary sequel."

The movie's Wikipedia page, meanwhile, uses this pedantic and academic description:
"The subtitle 'Electric Boogaloo', originally a reference to a funk-oriented dance style of the same name, has entered the pop-culture lexicon as a snowclone pejorative nickname to denote an archetypical sequel."
(Not surprisingly, this description references a 2007 Oxford University Press article titled: "Phrasal Patterns 2: Electric Boogaloo." If you're having trouble sleeping, check it out.)

I'm far more expansive, liberal and forgiving in my use of "Electric Boogaloo." My philosophy boils down to this:

The second of all you do
... is Electric Boogaloo!

And so we can have:

  • Paul Blart 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • The Remains of the Day 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Gigli 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Casablanca 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Leonard Part 6 Part 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • The Great Gatsby 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Abbey Road 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Grocery List 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Trip to Florida 2: Electric Boogaloo
  • Papergreat 2: Electric Boogaloo

And on and on and on. It's not just a meme. Boogaloo is a lifestyle. But before the meme there was the movie, though few remember its specifics. The two production stills featured at the top of this post were released to the media by Tri-Star Pictures (now minus the hyphen and just TriStar Pictures).

The first photograph shows some very fashionable individuals2 having a pointed conversation while standing underneath an overpass.

The second photography has its publicity caption still attached to the back. It states:
"After a bad fall down a flight of stairs, Turbo (MICHAEL "BOOGALOO SHRIMP" CHAMBERS) lies in his hospital bed with a broken leg and tries to convince his friends to sneak him out of the hospital. BREAKIN' 2 ELECTRIC BOOGALOO is a Tri-Star release."
That's right. Boogaloo Shrimp was one of the stars of Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers is now 51 and most recently appeared in 2018's Groove Street. His non-Electric Boogaloo career highlights include appearances in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult and on the TV show Family Matters as the ... (checks notes) ... Urkelbot.3

1. The second-most important movie released in December 1984, meme-wise, was Johnny Dangerously. The movie belonged to rising star Michael Keaton, but it was Joe Piscopo's "Once!" lines that have lived on farther than Piscopo's career and are repurposable for every occasion. His original lines, as Danny Vermin, included:
  • You shouldn't hang me on a hook, Johnny. My father hung me on a hook once. Once!
  • You shouldn't grab me, Johnny. My mother grabbed me once ... ONCE!
  • You shouldn't have shot me, Johnny. My grandmother shot me once...
2. Ashar says the second person from the left has the best outfit.
3. That's actually not the correct usage of the "checks notes" meme. But, as I said, I am liberal in my use of comedy tropes.

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