I really love horror films but, damn, there is no other movie experience as terrifying as sitting through one of those serial parody films. Well, at least Dance Flick isn’t directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Selzer, who brought us such anti-classics as Disaster Movie, Date Movie, and Epic Movie. Instead, Dance Flick comes to us from multiple Wayans family members, and, as one would expect, this is one hell of an incestuous affair. Damien Dante Wayans directs and receives screenwriting assistance from Keenen Ivory, Shawn, Marlon, and Craig. Damien also executive produces, along with Craig Wayans. Producers include Keenen Ivory, Shawn, and Marlon, who also make obligatory cameo appearances within the film itself, but if you were to expect me to specifically identify any of them, you’d be sorely mistaken. Musical credits go to Dwayne Wayans, and various other Wayans family members fill various duties and bit acting parts. Most importantly, however, is the so-called receiver of the Wayans cinematic molatov cocktail, the up-and-coming Damon Wayans Jr., as the leading man. Now, let me assure the alarmists among you that, even though the plot of Dance Flick mirrors that of Save the Last Dance, we need not worry about saving the last Wayans. According to legend, this family has stockpiled several generations of future “comedians,” who are all currently populating an uncharted island off the coast of California and plotting a take over of the entire film industry. In the future, all things already parodied will be parodied again, and screenplays will become so increasingly meta-masturbatory that to bring up Oedipus would result in, “Who you talking about bitch? My man Chia LaRoof is gonna transform your ass!”
Don’t worry — I don’t get it either.
Much like this half-assed joke, the form of lazy parody relied upon in Dance Flick is also evident in many of the earlier Wayans films. In a sense, it’s difficult to fault the Wayans, on principle, for continuing to fall back upon this form of humor. After all, the very first Scary Movie managed to please most audiences, and, until just recently, even the most banal parodies were rewarded at the box office. Further, there’s really no use in griping about the lack of originality in these parody films, for Hollywood has already largely begun to rely on remakes, reboots, and adaptations. Hell, one may as well just do away with the expectation of original stories altogether, but, damn it, the purpose of a parody film is to be funny, and the Wayans ain’t bringing it here.
This brings us to their latest crapfest. Dance Flick, after its introductory round of one character peeing upon another, focuses on ballet dancer Megan White (Shoshana Bush), who loses her mother in the film’s highly insensitive portrayal of a freakish car accident. Megan has no choice but to leave home and go live with her deadbeat father, Ron (Chris Elliott, honorary Wayans). As the new white girl at a primarily black Musical High School (where students do, in fact, spontaneously break out in song), she finds a dance mentor and romantic interest in Thomas Uncles (Damon Wayans Jr.), who helps her chase her Juilliard dreams and a little somethin’ extra. A little help comes from the school dance instructor, a Ms. Cameltoé (Amy Sedaris, nooooooo), whose leotard defies the film’s PG-13 rating. Somehow, Megan endures all this and ends up teaming up with new BFF Charity (Essence Atkins) and Thomas for the all-important dance-off against the city’s rival dance troupe. To complicate matters, Thomas owes money to a drug dealer named Sugar Bear (David Alan Grier), who sings various showtunes while wearing the obligatory parody fat suit, and single mother Charity needs to coordinate childcare with school and dance practice. Her solution? Hang the baby in her locker during classes.
After about 85 minutes, Dance Flick mercifully reaches its end, but, in the process, it lacks no subtlety in alluding to the High School Musical franchise, Twilight, Black Snake Moan, Hairspray, Little Miss Sunshine, and (who could forget) How She Stepped Up, Stomped the Yard, and Got Served 2. In its quest for riotous laughter Dance Flick consists entirely of insanely stupid one-liners and humor based upon bodily functions as well as racial and sexual stereotypes. It is an insanely stupid experience to behold.
Despite my better judgment, I will reveal that a couple of actual semi-amusing moments do occur within this otherwise worthless film. Naturally, I couldn’t help but laugh when a Zac Efron-esque character (portrayed by Brennan Hillard), torn between his twin loves of basketball and theater (i.e., sweaty guys vs. jazz hands), belts out a rather marvelous set of lyrics: “Flame! I wanna be gay forever!” Yet, my admitted appreciation of this rather tasteless turn of song is solely due to my pain in witnessing the original. As such, only two reasons exist for watching Dance Flick: (1) You’ve already sat through enough Zac Efron films to choke a thinly-closeted chicken and demand catharsis; (2) You’ve either purposely or accidentally eaten your roommate’s pot brownies. Be forewarned that, whichever the case, you’ll still hate yourself afterward.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at agentbedhead.com.