Street dancer Thomas Uncles is from the wrong side of the tracks, but his bond with the beautiful Megan White might help the duo realise their dreams as the enter in the mother of all dance battles.
The comic inventiveness that the Wayan Brothers brought to their early 1990’s TV sketch-comedy show In Living Color (the launching pad for a young comic named Jim Carrey and a young dancer named Jennifer Lopez) has evaporated before our eyes as the boys – Marlon, Keenan Ivory, Damon, Damon Jr. and Shawn, with little sister Kim tagging along – tackled big screen stardom. Dance Flick is their latest and, while it's not quite the cinematic equivalent of waterboarding that their shocker Little Man (2006) was, it certainly won't do much to salvage their movie careers.
A broad, crude satirical skewering of teen dance films, Dance Flick follows a pristine, innocent white-girl named, wait for it, Megan White (Shoshanna Bush) who is thrust into an urban ghetto high school, Musical High, after her mother dies in a car crash (played for laughs, of course). Megan befriends Thomas (Damon Wayans Jr.) and together they must overcome the sniggers of their peers, including Tracey (Essence Atkins, bravely playing to the back row in the film's only real no-holds-barred comedy performance) and Tracy Transfat (Chelsea Makela, putting on a brave face in the Hairspray-inspired big-girl role).
The group of outcasts are soon pitted against the neighbourhood’s toughest bullies in a dance-off competition for $5000 prize money that... anyway, whatever.
Your ability to spot the rib-tickling references in the Wayan Brothers’ latest shot at Flying High-style zaniness, will depend on your degree of familiarity with the plot intricacies of films such as Anne Fletcher’s Step Up (2006), Thomas Carter’s Save The Last Dance (2001), Sylvain White’s Stomp The Yard (2007) and Chris Stokes’ You Got Served (2004). There are also some very obvious and none-too-funny references to the High School Musical franchise, the demographically-relevant Twilight and the 1980’s relic Fame.
The Bros. Wayans lucked out when they hit big with their utterly unfunny send-up of Scream-style horror films, Scary Movie (2000, a series which didn’t peak until Flying High/ Naked Gun maestro David Zucker took over the series in 2003’s inspired Scary Movie 3). They adopt a similar machine-gun approach to comedy in Dance Flick, hoping the sheer volume and relentless assault of sight gags and scatological references numbs the viewer into laughing. It doesn’t work; long passages of dire comedy unfold with not a breath of laughter present.
The material is weak, the focus is too narrow, the pacing is laboured, as if the editors were cutting in anticipation of the laugh track. When the biggest laughs come from a restrictive leotard-wearing dance teacher called Mrs. Cameltoe, you know a film has real problems.