by Corey Hall
Deep beneath its canopy of dumb slapstick, pop culture winks, and scatological ha-has lies the existential dilemma at the heart of Dance Flick; that is, what sucks worse? The silly teen dance flicks or the lame spoofs of them? Surely such oversexed and underthought fluff as Save the Last Dance, Stomp the Yard, Hairspray, Step Up, etc., are ripe for ridicule, but do we really need to go through the played-out motions and poop gags to know that?
All those cheesy flicks and more, including golden oldies Flashdance and Fame, and newer bombs such as Honey and Roll Bounce, all get ground into a greasy pile of hamburger by the cooks of comedy fast food, the Wayans. It's truly a family affair, with a credit list loaded with Wayans, from Keenan, Shawn, Damien, Kim to the lead actor, Damon Jr., a spitting image of his pop, though a fairly pale copy comedically.
The rest of the cast sees energetic rookies in Shoshana Bush alongside generally funny vets Chris Elliott and Amy Sedaris, who seems to be wholly unembarrassed playing a character named "Ms. Cameltoe." Likewise Cass Tech grad, and Wayans pal David Alan Grier is still nimble, even when his fat suit appears to be wearing a fat suit.
There are chuckles here, including a great Twilight joke, but more often the movie is content to drop a Jay-Z reference, fall down, fart, or slap someone in the face. Then there's the simply inexplicable: Keenan in false white teeth and a yellow suit doing a mean-spirited riff on Steve Harvey.
The shame is that once upon a time these guys packed a satiric punch; the show In Living Color often nailed black media stereotypes to the wall. While there's a hint of that here, with the inanity of Hollywood's white-black romances called out, there's also a spiteful strain of misogyny and homophobia that ruins the whole vibe. Oddly, Dance Flick feels dumbed-down and narrowly cast at the same time.