(2009)1.5Jeremy WheelerThe Wayans family cash in on another genre ripe for parody with Dance Flick, a dead-on-arrival stinker that gets it right comedy-wise one out of 30 miserable tries. If success were based on how many jokes are lobbed at the audience, this movie would be king of dummies. Like choreographed dance moves, Dance Flick's wisecracks could be counted in three tired steps. First are the worn-out pop-culture references to both music (Britney Spears) and movies (Ray, since it's so timely), then throw in some racial humor -- mostly having to do with the ditzy white girl making her way through an urban school (much of which ends up being aimed directly at the baffled white teen audience). The third step usually has to do with a misunderstanding, resulting in a slapstick moment of violence that, if dragged out long enough, kisses up to a level of absurdity that almost renders it funny. But really, that's giving Dance Flick too much credit.
If scorecards were given out at the start of the film, there would probably be -- at most -- a half-dozen gags that kind of work. If you do the math, it equals a 13-percent success rate -- or a whole lot of lost time that its audience will never get back. Really, doesn't anyone who pays to see this have anything better to do? One would hope that the cast of In Living Color would, since they seemingly all make appearances here. Instead, they end up sending up a genre that's become a joke in and of itself. The plot needs no real explanation; basically, it's Save the Last Dance meets Honey meets Step Up meets you name it. Young girl with ballet in her heart moves to a new school where hip-hop reigns supreme. Young girl falls for a hip-hop kid and he teaches her the moves of the street. There are competitions and, yes, there are out-of-nowhere musical numbers, none of which inspire more than a headache.
What's most interesting about Dance Flick is what they do get right. One could count Amy Sedaris' singing groin as an "oh my god, what were they thinking?" kind of laugh, and the slapstick scene where the kid barrels down the street while skidding on his head proves that the Wayans still have a knack for idiotic hilarity. What's most evident is that this is a parody film whose creators have very little grasp on "the now," yet attempt to make reference to it over and over and over again, whether they get it or not. Thus, the biggest laugh in a series of celebrity car accidents proves to be a Halle Berry joke -- and not because she was once in a hit-and-run, but because they put her lookalike in a Catwoman outfit as she runs off. Once again, it's preposterous, but will most of the target audience even get that? A typical example of what doesn't work is the scene of a deadbeat dad stopping by his baby mama's house to "pick up his son." Shortly after walking in, he picks up his baby boy, then puts him down and announces that he'll pick him back up next week right before heading out the door. Yes, it's a gag -- and with better timing, one that could be pulled off in a brisk manner. In Dance Flick, it falls flat, much like everything else. The timer is ticking down on this newest string of parody films -- it would be nice if this one put the final nail in the coffin. What's next? "Parody Flick"?