Dance Flick

Cast:
Shoshana Bush as Megan
Damon Wayans Jr. as Thomas
Essence Atkins as Charity
Affion Crockett as A-Con
Chris Elliott as Ron
Christina Murphy as Nora
David Alan Grier as Sugar Bear
Amy Sedaris as Ms. Cameltoe
Kim Wayans as Ms. Dontwannabebothered
Lauren Bowles as Glynn
Brennan Hillard as Jack
George Gore II as Ray
Chelsea Makela as Tracy Transfat
Ross Thomas as Tyler

Directed by Damien Wayans

Story:
Ever since she was a young girl, Megan (Shoshana Bush) wanted to be a dancer, but a tragedy from her younger days kept her off the dance floor. When she starts at a new high school, she meets Thomas (Damon Wayans Jr.), a street dancer who gives her a new reason to want to dance.

Analysis:
Those who cringe at the thought of another movie from the makers of “White Chicks” and “Little Man” might find themselves counterbalanced by those who remember how good the Wayans were at spoof comedy when the first “Scary Movie” relaunched the genre in a big way.

Any good will remaining from that movie will be thrown out the window when in the first minute of “Dance Flick” one street dancer literally pisses in the face of another, and further inanity might make even the most steadfast critic want to shoot themselves in the head (or at least walk out). Fortunately, things do eventually get better, but only because there is no possible way for it to get worse. (This isn’t “The Love Guru” or “Meet the Spartans,” movies that are literally unwatchable.)

Despite returning to the high school setting of “Scary Movie,” it’s hard to match the genius of the Wayans’ earlier spoof movies, maybe because the actual Wayans Brothers—Keenen, Marlon and Shawn—only show up in small roles and not very good ones either. Even so, there’s little question that the Wayans know their source material even if they’re not just making fun of the obvious candidates like “You Got Served,” “Step Up” or “Save the Last Dance.” Over the course of the movie’s thankfully brief 83 minutes, they also poke fun at musicals like “High School Musical” and “Hairspray” and “Dreamgirls” and throw in a few “Ray” and “Roll Bounce” jokes. The movie generally seems to lack focus and is all over the place–was that a leftover “Final Destination” gag?–and it relies so much on dumb, sophomoric bathroom humor and double entendres that it never quite achieves the level of raunchy laughs the first “Scary Movie” achieved so successfully.

Instead, it feels like the Wayans have saved up every single celebrity joke they’ve thought up over the past few years and then piled them into this movie. How could anyone seriously make a Halle in a Catwoman costume gag or a joke about Imus’s “Nappy Headed Hoes” comment and not realize how dated they were? (At least that’s one, and probably the only, good thing that can be said about the makers of “Disaster Movie”; they churn their crapfests out so fast their bad jokes remain timely.)

The movie isn’t a complete loss, because Damon Wayans Jr. is clearly the younger generation Wayans who actually shows some comic talent, and Shoshana Bush is almost as good as Anna Farris in the “Scary Movies” in terms of being able to take anything thrown at her by the Wayans and going full-out regardless of how humiliating the gag may be. There is a clear chemistry between the two of them that allows for some fun moments when they’re spoofing the romantic element of dance movies.

There are some scenes which are just painful to watch, most of them involving David Alan Grier as an obese gangster named Sugar Bear who is essentially one extended fat joke that isn’t funny once, let alone in his three appearances. There’s also wasted talent like Amy Sedaris playing an inane dance teacher named Mrs. Cameltoé, whose main joke involves… well, we’ll leave that up to the imagination, but it’s pretty tasteless even before her final disgusting gag.

Affion Crockett does his usual gangsta-wannabe schtick as seen in “Soul Men,” and Essence Atkins isn’t breaking any new comedy ground as Megan’s friend, a single mother who is constantly abusing her baby. The actual baby in the role spends much of the film with a shell-shocked look on its face that clearly says, “Get me the hell out of here.” There are many times, you’ll be feeling his pain.

Overall, the production values aren’t great, making it obvious the younger Wayans is directing his first movie. Even though there are a couple amusing surprises along the way, for the most part, the cast always goes for the most obvious dumb laughs, telegraphed by their predictability. When one openly gay character breaks out into a musical dance number proclaiming his homosexuality to the theme from “Fame,” it’s obvious the Wayans don’t care about taking things too far, even if it means offending and insulting the audience they’re trying to entertain.

The Bottom Line:
“Dance Flick” is grueling, but mostly watchable. Funny? Not so much. Unless you have an IQ under 50, you probably won’t find very much that really deserves more than a mild chuckle at best.

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