Hip Hop-eration: Film review


Director: Bryn Evans

Stars: Maynie Thompson, Kara Nelson, Terri Woolmore-Goodwin, Billie Jordan

Whoever said growing old is boring has clearly never met New Zealand’s Hip Operation crew.

In what is one of the most uplifting documentaries I’ve ever seen, this group of senior citizens defy all odds to take to the stage at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships in Las Vegas.

Ranging from 67 to 95 years of age, the crew from Waiheke Island has inspired people from all different walks of life right around the globe.

The documentary follows troupe manager Billie Jordan who moved to Waiheke following the Christchurch earthquake and devotes her time to teaching hip hop dance to the elderly.

The crew itself is made up of a collection of the most extraordinary people. Hip hop dancing aside they all have the most incredible life stories to tell.

There’s Mayne Thompson, aka ‘Quicksilver’ who at 95 is the oldest member of the group and an iconic character on Waiheke Island. Maynie was left a solo mother after her husband abandoned her after the birth of their fifth child. Undeterred she continued to make the most of life and has been an advocate for world peace taking part in activism work around the world.

Then there’s her sidekick Kara Nelson, aka ‘Kara Bang-Bang’ (94) who accompanied her on various peace marches. While Kara loves the dancing she’s quick to express her dislike of hip hop music.

It’s the beautiful stories that Terri Woolmore-Goodwin aka ‘Terri 2-cents’ (94) tells though that will bring a tear to your eye. Her unconditional love for her husband Bill, who is now in a rest home, will restore your faith in humanity.

The crew really face an uphill battle to make it to the world champs. Money issues and various medical conditions look like they might kill the dream for some. But with the help from teenage hip hop dancers from Street Dance New Zealand they come together and make it happen.

The documentary follows the entire rollercoaster ride the crew go through. From learning to ‘crump’ while in a wheelchair to convincing the doctor they’re ok to travel, these moments will make the audience question everything they ever thought about growing old.

The respect the Hip Operation crew have for the youth is incredible and in return the relationship that develops between the different generations is truly heart-warming.

Breaking down all preconceived notions of what hip hop may be the crew have now developed a level of fame no one ever could have imagined.

This documentary is an absolute must-see. It’s both heart-warming and heart-breaking and will have you laughing until you cry. I literally could not wipe the smile off my face watching this and only hope that the Hip Operation crew continue to inspire for years to come.

'Hip Hop-eration' is in cinemas now