I really don't know what to tell you guys about Dance Flick. If you're planning to see it, you're probably not even reading this review, since critics are dumb and only like gay Oscar movie shit, right? Dance Flick is the definition of a critic-proof movie, an easy spoof that has the added bonus of the Wayans name, the guys who brought you Scary Movie but not-- I repeat not-- Disaster Movie, Epic Movie and all the rest.
And while Dance Flick carries a little of that deranged Wayans comedy that got me watching In Living Color at a ridiculous, inappropriately young age, it's mostly just another lame spoof. Though there are plenty of modern urban dance movies ripe for parody, Dance Flick is inexplicably focused on Save the Last Dance, the 2001 movie starring Julia Stiles as the white ballerina introduced to hip-hop by a streetwise Sean Patrick Thomas. Shoshana Bush fills in the Stiles role, while Damon Wayans Jr. is the urban kid only a little embarrassed to be dating a white girl.
I've seen Save the Last Dance maybe once, on cable, and I still noticed that Dance Flick adapted that movie's plot nearly scene for scene, probably because they couldn't come up with something more creative on their own. Essence Atkins is the sassy black friend who's also a single mom, and Shawn Wayans the sheepish dad who comes by once in a while to literally pick up his son for a few minutes, then put him back down and walk away. Other characters show up from more random places-- the aptly named ballet instructor Ms. Cameltoe (Amy Sedaris, oddly), the intense drama instructor Mr. Moody (Marlon Wayans), and the enormous gangster Sugar Bear (David Alan Grier), who at one point sings a showstopping ballad inspired by Dreamgirls song "And I Am Telling You," but this time dedicated to snack food.
That song and the Fame-inspired number "Gay!" are actually pretty good parodies, but they're jammed so senselessly into the plot that you can't even appreciate the cleverness that went into making them. Same goes for any number of references to other dance movies, from Flashdance to Stomp the Yard, as well as movies that have nothing to do with dance-- there are nods to Twilight, Halle Berry as Catwoman, and weirdly enough, Black Snake Moan. For every time Dance Flick stumbles upon a particularly sharp joke, there are five other instances of shoving in anything they think will get a laugh.
Directed by Damien Dante Wayans, nephew of Keenen Ivory, Shawn, Marlon and all the rest, Dance Flick marks the emergence of a new generation of Wayans who still have their uncles very clearly whispering instructions in their ears. Maybe the problem isn't that the Wayans have lost their touch for absurdity, but that the spoof genre got away from them, morphing into something not even they could steer. Dance Flick isn't the bottom of the barrel, but for anyone who knew the Wayans family in their heyday, it's nothing but a scattershot disappointment.
Reviewed By: Katey Rich
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