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With: Shoshana Bush, Damon Wayans Jr., Essence Atkins, Affion Crockett, Luis Dalmasy Jr., Chris Elliott, Christina Murphy, David Alan Grier, Amy Sedaris, Kim Wayans, Lauren Bowles, Brennan Hillard, George Gore II, Chelsea Makela, Ross Thomas, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Lochlyn Munro
Written by: Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Craig Wayans, Damien Dante Wayans
Directed by: Damien Dante Wayans
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, and language
Running Time: 83
Date: 05/22/2009

Dance Flick (2009)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Trite Moves

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Keenen Ivory Wayans' nephew Damien makes his feature directorial debut with Dance Flick. It only has a vague, passing resemblance to earlier Wayans parodies I'm Gonna Git You Sucka or Scary Movie, and it isn't very funny, it's at least kind of sweet and mostly inoffensive. As you can guess, it lampoons many recent dance films, and its main plot thrust comes from Save the Last Dance (2001). Megan (Shoshana Bush) once had dreams of being a professional dancer, but gave it up when her mother died on the way to a big audition. Now she goes to an inner city school, befriending Charity (Essence Atkins) and falling in love with Charity's handsome, dancing brother Thomas (Damon Wayans Jr.). Unfortunately Thomas and his street dancing crew have fallen in with some bad types. He and his pal A-Con (Affion Crockett) must pay back a gangster (David Alan Grier in a fat suit) some five thousand dollars. Though this plot ultimately doesn't matter much, the Wayanses make sure to stick to it as closely as possible. Other movie parodies show up, and not all of them -- such as Twilight -- are dance movies, but the jokes basically lie in the audience's recognition of said film titles. The expected crude humor is at best unsurprising.

Then there's the dancing. In a parody of dance movies like Honey, Step Up 2 the Streets and Stomp the Yard, what kind of dancing do you show? Should it be impressive, or awful? Or just in-between with lots of little gags thrown in? You guessed it. We get breakdancers spinning so fast that they launch off the floor and fly out the window. One dancer sticks his head up his own... hindquarters. Then, of course, we get the "forbidden move" that wins contests, though thankfully, the film doesn't pay too much attention to this creaky device, and gets one good gag out of it. What I would like to have seen in a spoof of these kinds of movies is something making fun of the very theatrical, in-your-face dance floor machismo, wherein dancers sneer at one another and taunt each other with hand-signals and street lingo. Dance Flick copies that, but doesn't necessarily make fun of it. The whole enterprise seems hopelessly out of date and out of step, especially when you consider such brainy, pointed parodies as last summer's Tropic Thunder, which not only took on a film genre, but also the skewed Hollywood thought process behind it. Dance Flick never looks forward, and it never tries to discover just what it is about the dance genre that deserves to be parodied, or how it can be one-upped.

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