28 Days of Black Movies: An homage to Lil Saint, the realest, downest character in the dancingest movie, ‘You Got Served’

OPINION: Somehow in a movie with drug dealers and street toughs, an 8-year-old is the one with the most street cred.

"You Got Served." (Sony Pictures)

What I’m about to say may sound a little bit crazy but for my life it’s true: You Got Served is a very, very entertaining and enjoyable movie. The entire premise of the film feels so non-sensical that you can’t help but smile as the non-sense unfolds. Let’s talk about it so that we can get to the important part of this movie: the hardest character in the movie is an 8-year-old, Lil Saint. 

So here’s the whole story of You Got Served: David (Omarion) and Elgin (Marques Houston) are the leaders of a dance crew and also drug runners for the neighborhood drug dealer, Emerald (Michael Taliferro). When they need money (and aren’t dancing), they get to the drug running. As a dance crew though, they’re dope. They win and win with style, breaking suckas down. 

Well, a dance crew from Orange County—the movie is set in Los Angeles—challenges David and Elgin’s crew to a battle for $5,000 and the challenge is accepted. However, what David and Elgin don’t know is that one of their homies has become disenchanted with them and has joined the Orange Country crew and given them all the dance moves of his prior crew. David and Elgin get served, lose $5,000, and have to run more drugs to get that dough; but while David is trynna holler at Elgin’s sister on a date, Elgin goes to get that drug money and ends up beat up and robbed. Because David wasn’t there for Elgin, their friendship suffers, causing a split in the dance crew; some go with David, some go with Elgin. They compete in a dance battle for $50,000 and a shot at being in a Lil Kim video, but in the middle of the competition, Lil Saint gets killed. They finally come together, street style and win the competition and blah blah blah. 

That took a lot longer to write out than I imagined. In the middle of all this is some very, very ridiculous acting, bad basketball, Meagan Good clearly not having a script and being required to improv her lines, which isn’t really bad compared to everybody else who probably did have a script. Also, Steve Harvey is in this movie; his glow-up has been real, as is La La Anthony, Lil Kim, Wade Robson, Columbus Short, Kevin Federline, Jackeé Harry, another member of IMx and all of B2K. Whew, issa lot. 

The most interesting character, though, is one Lil Saint, played by Malcolm David Kelley, who was a young Antwone Fisher in the movie of the same name, Walt Lloyd on Lost for a few seasons and, most recently, one of Molly’s brothers on Insecure. Lil Saint’s character is odd. For one, he is apparently a little hoodlum who has taken a shining to Rico (played by Jarrell “J-Boog” Houston of B2K) and wants to hang with him and get down with the dance crew. Fam, he’s a little kid. But he’s apparently so real in the streets that everybody knows of him as being a bad little kid. 

One of the conditions of Lil Saint being a dance apprentice (basically) is that he has to give up the street life. They don’t say it so specifically, but he’s told he has to stop being a little thug. I’m like, who is this kid?? What is he out here doing already? Is he a stick-up kid? Is he already in a gang? Rico, who cares deeply for Lil Saint, is doing his best to keep Lil Saint on the straight and narrow. Lil Saint, though, is so real out here that his OWN crew includes folks who apparently drive cars or like to have him around because he’s about that life. How do we know this? Because Lil Saint loses his life—it’s not nearly as heart-wrenching as I think it’s supposed to be; this ain’t G-Baby—while riding in the car with his homies. A rival crew shot up the car Lil Saint was in. 

Lil Saint is real y’all. He knows he must get his life together and because he looks up to Rico so much, to the point of even dressing like him, he is willing to try to let go of that street life. Again, y’all, he’s 8. But either he couldn’t let it go or just got in the car with the wrong people or maybe was the reason the car got shot up; none of that is ever made entirely clear, which makes sense; this movie isn’t exactly great on explaining much of anything. 

As a show of love and respect, Elgin’s crew renamed itself “the Lil Saints” in honor of the dead homie for the competition where the $50,000 and music video is on the line. I love how crazy it is that they made the youngest cast member the hardest one. And Lil Saint was super down for Rico; like, you weren’t about to say nothing crazy about him because then you’d have to mess with Lil Saint, and I kind of feel like nobody truly wanted that smoke, which makes no sense. David and Elgin work for a drug dealer who clearly doesn’t suffer fools, but I was more concerned about who Lil Saint was and just how deep he was in the streets because every mention of him was something about keeping him out of the streets and then, well, he died in the streets. 

Lil Saint was a real one, this much is true. He loved hard and wanted to be a better person and follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Rico. He wanted to dance. He wanted to leave the street life for feet life, but his little life was chopped down too soon. I don’t know that this ever really happened but I think it did. I imagine that once his grandpa asked him if he cared if he lived or died, I’ll bet he said yes. But he did too much in the streets and it caught up with him, and now it’s too late. 

Shouts out to Lil Saint, a straight-up menace who tried to turn it all around but the street life wouldn’t let him go. Truly a life gone too soon. 

I hope you got to dance a happy dance in heaven, Lil Saint.

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).

TheGrio is now on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!