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'Dance Flick'

MOVIE REVIEW

The comic footing is nimble as the Wayans family grinds through the formulaic with its parody buzz saw.

May 22, 2009|Glenn Whipp

After flashing a dismal move that would make "Dancing With the Stars" judge Len Goodman weep uncontrollably, the emcee in the Wayans brothers' latest parody, "Dance Flick," holds his nose and proclaims, "That's not just bad. That's everything-on-the-CW bad."

What the character should have said was that the intentionally bad dancing was way worse (which is to say, funnier) than just about any of the sorry sketches found in the proliferation of parody movies that arrived after the Wayans' deadly funny "Scary Movie" back in 2000.

The Wayans had nothing to do with those fatigued exercises in tedium ("Date Movie," "Epic Movie," etc.), but the assumption remains that they did, tainting "Dance Flick" by association. But this send-up, created in large part by new-generation family members Damon Jr., Craig and Damien Dante Wayans, possesses a more nimble comic footing. We'll stop short of calling it graceful, given that the movie's second joke involves a dance competitor sticking his head up his behind.

Yes, it's that kind of comedy, a buzz saw grinding its way through formulas found in such recent dance movies as "Step Up," "Stomp the Yard" and "You Got Served," not to mention such "classics" as "Flashdance" and "Fame." The latter comes into play when a Zac Efron-styled high school student makes like Irene Cara and sings not about living forever, but coming out with . . . um . . . pride.

Efron should probably pass on seeing this one, likewise Halle Berry, whose persona sets one of the "plot" points in motion with a gruesome hit-and-run accident. For these new Wayans, every scene can be improved by adding a violent beating. Example: A Ray Charles stand-in shows up, ostensibly only to spill hot coffee in his mother's lap. (Yes, he hits the road, Jack.)

The miss-and-hit parodies score best when focusing on the Julia Stiles-styled girl next door (Shoshana Bush) chasing her dream of becoming a ballet dancer while attending Musical High. It's not in the Wayans' family makeup to develop an actual plot with connective tissue, but had they stayed within the school's corridors, they could have had a lot more fun with Marlon Wayans' aptly named drama teacher Mr. Moody and the vindictive girls gym instructor (Heather McDonald), whose name, like most of the movie's humor, we dare not speak.

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'Dance Flick'

MPAA rating: PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout and language

Running time: 1 hour,

23 minutes

Playing: In general release

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