Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The Wayans clan, who made the first two “Scary Movie” spoofs, show no mercy with their latest parody “Dance Flick,” an uproariously crude, lewd, and rude roasting of dance movies. Specifically, “Dance Flick” pokes fun at “Fame,” “Save the Last Dance,” “Drumline,” “Hairspray,” “Center Stage,” “Step Up,” “Roll, Bounce,” “Stomp the Yard,” “Step Up,” “Step Up 2 the Streets,” and the “High School Musical” movies. “Dance Flick” ranks as the best parody movie since “Superhero Movie” (2008). Moreover, the Wayans have ripped into some classics, such as “West Side Story” and “Singing in the Rain.” Indeed, the fun of most parodies is spotting the movie being jeered first and hoping second that you’ll cheer the jeers. Even if you loved the movie getting mocked, a good parody can make you appreciate your favorite movie more because it pays tribute to it.

Not nearly as scatological as the first two “Scary Movies,” “Dance Flick” relies on the usual hilarious sight gags that the Wayans deploy throughout their derivative, often lowest-common-denominator, storyline to skewer the conventions and cliches of those terpsichorean tales. Unless you’ve seen the aforementioned films, you may not be laughing when others are roaring. Sometimes, the Wayans insert some pungent political satire into this brisk 83 minute epic, but it doesn’t distract from the overall antics. You rarely have enough time to read all the whacky wall signs plastered in every shot because the film flies by so quickly.

After her mom dies in a tragic auto accident rushing to her daughter’s Juilliard dance audition, Megan (Shoshana Bush of “Fired Up”) relocates to the big city to live with her destitute father (Chris Elliot of “Cabin Boy”) in his condemned apartment. Like everything else in the audacious “Dance Flick,” the demise of Megan’s mother is played strictly for laughs. In fact, she escapes from her wrecked vehicle, only to be struck by a car with a Lindsay vanity license tag. Another vehicle with a Brandy vanity tag hits her. Finally, a third vehicle with a Halle vanity tag strikes her. Appropriately enough, a black female dressed as Cat Woman flees from the accident. After Halle hits her, Megan’s poor mom flies through the air and lands in her freshly dug grave.

Meanwhile, Megan enrolls in an inner city high school, Musical High School. She meets Thomas (Damon Wayans Jr.) and they become an item. Megan has shunned dancing since her mom’s accidental death. Eventually, Thomas persuades her to take up hip-hop dancing. Later, on their first big date, Thomas takes Megan to the ballet. Megan is shocked. The ballet recreates the events that culminated in her mom’s death involving a stalled gasoline tanker truck along with those reckless celebrity drivers with vanity tags.

Aside from Thomas, Megan meets a variety of oddballs at Musical High. The first day at lunch in the cafeteria, the entire student body breaks into a routine from the movie “Fame” where everybody plays a musical instrument, including a blind kid named Ray (George Gore II) who displays exceptional piano skills. The "Fame" lyrics has been altered to something considerably more salacious as well as silly. Megan’s ghetto hall locker neighbor is Charity (Essence Atkins of “How High”) and Charity hauls her infant son to school everyday and hangs him in her locker while she attends classes. Megan discovers that Charity’s brother is none other than Thomas! In another “Save the Last Dance” scene, Charity reprimands Megan for her interracial romance with Thomas when African-American gals are running out of their own race to date.

Imagine the usual line-up of characters in teen dance musicals. Each has a counterpart in “Dance Flick,” right down to the pairing an obese “Hairspray” type girl and her dream boy jock who would rather play Juliet in “Romeo & Juliet” than dribble for his father’s high school basketball team. Megan gapes when she meets her dance class instructor, Ms. Cameltoé (Amy Sedaris of “Bewitched”), who lives up to her descriptive surname. Meanwhile, Thomas and his main man, A-Con (Affion Crockett of “Soul Men”), have their own troubles. A-Con is a street hoodlum with no ambition, but Thomas aspires to be a gynecologist. Thomas dreams of attending Jus Community College. They have a dance crew that participates regularly in street dance competitions. They have lost $5-thousand during their last street dance contest. Now, they owe the five grand to a local gangsta, Sugar Bear (David Allen Grier of “An American Carol”), and he demands his dough. Sugar Bear resembles Jabba the Hutt of “Star Wars” and cannot consume enough candy, pies, and sugary treats.

Primarily, director Damien Wayans has taken "Save the Last Dance" and crossed it with “Step Up 2 The Streets,” supplementing it with characters from other movies like "Hairspray," "Ray," and "Fame.” For instance, the obese girl, Tracy Transfat (Chelsea Makela), who attends Musical High, is modeled on chubby Tracy Turnblad from “Hairspray” while the basketball coach's son resembles Zac Efron from “High School Musical.” Grier is riotous in an obvious fat suit as Sugar Bear and Chris Elliott plays Megan’s sordid, low-life father. Naturally, the entire Wayans clan gets in on the action. Shawn plays Charity’s baby’s daddy. Shawn has several amusing scenes. Marlon ranks as the most outrageous as an idiotic drama teacher who has made only one movie. He played a slave in a “Mandingo” plantation movie where he cut off his leg. Keenen Ivory plays street dance promoter Mr. Stache with the whitest fake teeth you’ve ever seen.

The Wayans have been masters at politically incorrect parodies since their Fox-TV series “In Living Color” (1990-1994), and they ridicule stereotypes mercilessly here for maximum merriment. They rag straight people, gay people, black people, white people, teachers, and drunken celebrities. When A-Con tells Thomas that he cannot become a doctor because he has guns for hands, he displays his gun hands and calls himself Edward Triggerfingers after the Johnny Depp movie “Edward Scissorhands.” Altogether, “Dance Flick” is a cakewalk of a comedy.

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