It has become a sad trend in current cinema that when creative juices aren’t used to create a film in its own genre a movie comes out just making fun of all the movies in an already existing genre. It started with “Scary Movie,” which was really funny. “Scary Movie 2” was almost identical, but it still knew how to draw a laugh. Then things started getting out of control with “Not Another Teen Movie,” “Date Movie,” “Epic Movie,” name some other stereotypical genre movie one through 100 here. With each new installation the jokes became cruder and it felt more likely to make the viewer puke than laugh at any of them.
I expected the same kind of over the top crudeness with “Dance Flick” but was shocked when half an hour into the film I was laughing out loud instead of contemplating shooting myself in the face.
Written by: Keenen Ivory Wayans and Shawn Wayans
Starring: Shoshana Bush, Damon Wayans Jr.
Seen at: AMC Loews Boston Common 19
“Dance Flick” is the third genre-imitation film from the Wayans family, who were responsible for the first two films of the “Scary Movie” franchise. The film makes the 2001 ultimate teen dance movie “Save the Last Dance” its main target by centering the film on an upper-class white ballet dancer, Megan, who loses her mother in a car accident and thus is forced to move to “the ghetto” with her father. There she attends Musical High School and falls back into her love of dance with her new friends, and boyfriend “" Thomas, a black, aspiring vagina doctor.
“Save the Last Dance” is the primary plotline, but break-dancer-battle “You Got Served” ballerina-meets-underclass-janitor-who-also-dances-at-a-professional-level “Step it Up” and Disney’s favorite harmonic money maker “High School Musical” also take hits along the way.
It has to be said that the Wayans family did a superb research job when writing the film. Having just seen “Save the Last Dance” during one of its million showings on USA this week (probably to help promote “Dance Flick”), I noticed that a lot of the original dialogue remained, just with a slight change of context to highlight the melodramatic content of the actual “Save the Last Dance” script.
The Wayans crew also surprised me by using the current economic situation and oil dependency as a source for laughs rather than just relying on pure physical and sexual comedy. The commuters’ preoccupation with stealing gasoline from the wittingly named “Cheney” gas truck instead of saving Megan’s mother from her flower vehicle in the film opening was quality comedy. The basic comedy root of the film takes a risk by standing on making fun of the racial stereotypes and expectations usual dance movies exploit for drama.
Fans of all the other spoof movies shouldn’t be disappointed. “Dance Flick” doesn’t completely neglect the physical comedy that made all the others funny. There are still plenty of pee jokes and girls with man parts to go around. I’m not a complete hater, though I did feel uncomfortable with the insuppressible chuckle at the Ray Charles eye boogies, and the queef beat-boxing at the end of the film will be giving me nightmares for the next week.
The film did end with a spectacular though not dance related spoof of “Twilight.” When Thomas turns around with a decked out, glittered face (making light of the fact that Edward Cullen did look like a Michael Jackson glove in the sparkle scene “" sorry “Twilight” fans) and asks Megan if she is afraid I was so pleased to hear her say, “Uh no, all you did was turn around with glitter on your face. You don’t even have fangs.”
The acting isn’t about to win an Oscar or anything, but “Dance Flick” has raised the bar again for any more spoof movies to come. While at times toeing, and sometimes stepping over, the line to offensive, “Dance Flick” was actually poignant as well as good for a laugh.
Plus, digs at Stephanie Meyer and “Twilight” sparkles? Ace.