Flex Is Kings is a documentary covering a new style of dance called “flexing” that’s quickly gaining popularity in certain areas of Brooklyn. The film features several performances and follows three different subjects, each with different goals and expectations of what flexing is to them, both personally and professionally.
Structurally, it reminds me a lot of Hoop Dreams, a documentary about two inner-city kids who share dreams of the NBA and the differing paths they each take to get there. It’s an incredible film that serves to tell both boys’ stories as larger metaphors for their communities as a whole, showcasing the lives of the boys over the basketball itself.
Though Flex reaches for this same effect, it falls short in its execution and vision. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi is a good example of the kind of documentary Flex should have been; one that focused more directly on the craft around which the film is centered than the lives of the practitioners.
The strength of Flex is clearly the dancing and performances, which I can honestly say is like nothing I’ve seen before and worth the watch alone. Flexing is most certainly the main character, something the filmmakers failed to realize. That is not to say that the personal stories aren’t interesting or relevant, but rather, aren’t presented in a way that’s engaging, at times coming across as heavy handed and drawn out.
All of this can be attributed to the single fact that there just isn’t enough of a story here to justify a feature length. Based on the content, this seems like it would be best suited as a short documentary, somewhere between 15 to 40 minutes and distributed online.
Aesthetically, the film could use some work. Though ambitious in the way it’s shot, there are times when the camera is too passive, missing opportunities to get into the thick of the action. The raw and unpolished camerawork often finds itself catching up to the subjects rather than reacting to them.
Most of all, the editing could have been a lot tighter. There were several times I asked myself why this part was included or how that portion enhanced the narrative, and, in the end, the answer I found was that for the most part it didn’t. I can’t blame them for the loose editing though, as the already paltry 86 minute runtime felt like a challenge, not only for the editors to meet, but for me as a viewer to sit through.
Overall, it had some impressive dance routines and an interesting perspective as to how flexing is shaping the community, but as it was, the film would stand a much better chance if it picked one of those themes rather than try to combine both.
Flex Is Kings
Currently in select theaters
Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).