Monday, May 25, 2009

Dance Flick

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Unsubtle Wayans Brothers More Shocking Than Funny

Times sure have changed when a film featuring a character wearing tights which emphasize the outline of her oversized private parts can be rated PG-13. But that’s what we have with Dance Flick which, just to make sure you get the dirty double entendre, further hits you over the head by having Ms. Cameltoe (Amy Sedaris) utter lines like “I bet you’ve heard I have a big [C-word].” And “I’ve inserted tampons bigger than you.” The unsubtle Cameltoe teaches at mythical Musical High School where her overexposure works hand-in-crotch with Thomas Uncles (Damon Wayons, Jr.), a prized pupil who announces his plans to become a “vaginacologist.”
Such bad taste is par for the course in this Wayans Brothers production superficially patterned after Scary Movie, their hilarious spoof of horror films that inspired a host of take-the-money-and-run parodies of other genres, including Not Another Teen Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, Superhero Movie, Meet the Spartans and Disaster Movie. Unfortunately, Dance Flick fails to measure up to the Wayans’ original, being more in league with the litany of mostly-mediocre also-rans.
At least the picture does follow a rudimentary plotline, although it’s real reason for being is to satirize familiar scenes from such movies as Save the Last Dance, Fame, Step Up, Stomp the Yard, Roll Bounce, Dreamgirls, Black Snake Moan, Hairspray, Singing in the Rain, High School Musical, ATL, Twilight, Flashdance, The Little Shop of Horrors, Edward Scissorhands and Final Destination.
In 25 words or more, Dance Flick revolves around Megan (Shoshana Bush), a white girl from the suburbs who moves to the slums to live with her slacker father (Chris Elliott) following her mother’s fatal car accident. After transferring to Musical High, the Juilliard-bound ballerina is befriended by a classmate, Charity (Essence Atkins), who leaves the infant in her locker during the school day. Somehow, the single-mom does have plenty of time to show the newcomer how to survive in the ‘hood, and to introduce Megan to her big brother, Thomas.
We know that Megan finds him handsome, when she admits, “I like his big fat butt.” However, the dialogue again goes way over the top when Charity’s inappropriately incestuous response is, “Well, you should see his dick!” Needless to say, lust, if not love, blossoms between Megan and Thomas as the subsequent series of skits inexorably build up to a couple of big finales: the senior dance showcase and the senior prom.
En route, however, bottom-feeding Dance Flick repeatedly crosses a line
whether it’s by calling a basketball team comprised of black females the “Nappy-Headed Hos,” by depicting a black toddler catching a sexually-transmitted disease because he didn’t wear a condom, or by showing the same baby packing a pistol. Ditto for the skit where Megan dons blackface to enter the Violence Club, a place which is popular because “all the ballers get shot there.”
In case you haven’t noticed, the movie basically relies on a running joke linking African-Americans with a variety of depraved behaviors. To get away with such an outrageous theme, the material had better be so relentlessly funny that nobody stops to think about what they’re laughing at, which, sadly, is rarely the case with Dance Flick.
A good indication as to how general audiences are actually likely to respond to this film is the fact that 6 out of the 10 people at the screening I attended walked out early. Granted, some were probably shocked parents who first covered their youngsters’ eyes in response to the sight of Ms. Cameltoe and then had to drag the kids out of the theater when the crude antics only escalated.
Coarse, adult-oriented fare guaranteed to induce more groans than guffahs.

Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, ethnic slurs, sexuality and crude humor.
Running time: 83 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures

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