[Screen It]

(2009) (Damon Wayans Jr., Shoshana Bush) (PG-13)

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Comedy: A young street dancer and the new girl at school are brought together by their love of dancing in this spoof of dance movies.
In this spoof of dance movies, Thomas Uncles (DAMON WAYANS JR.) and A-Con (AFFION CROCKETT) are members of a 3-man dance crew who end up owing $5,000 to sweets-crazed crime boss Sugar Bear (DAVID ALAN GRIER) when they lose a dance-off and the third man on their team, allowing rival dance crew leader Truck (CRAIG WAYANS) to win.

Former dancer Megan White (SHOSHANA BUSH) is the new girl at school where her only friend is single mom Charity (ESSENCE ATKINS). Despite being a former dancer, Megan must contend with Nora (CHRISTINA MURPHY) being the favorite and most talented student of Ms. Cameltoe (AMY SEDARIS), the demanding and demeaning dance instructor who looks down on everyone else in the class, including Tracy (CHELSEA MAKELA) for being overweight. Meanwhile, the basketball coach's son, Jack (BRENNAN HILLARD), desperately wants to come out of the closet.

With Thomas needing money to pay back Sugar Bear and Megan wanting to take up dancing again, it's only a matter of time before the two meet, clash and then fall for each other as another big dance-off competition looms in their future.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
There are only so many ways to tell a story, especially within a certain movie genre. Not surprisingly then, many films end up feeling and looking quite similar to others of their ilk. That often gives rise to cries -- okay, not quite to that extreme because no one really cares that much -- of such films being formulaic.

In fact, it can get so bad that such pics often become unintentional parodies of their genre brethren, what with following the standard trajectory and showcasing the usual suspects. Granted, any genre can fall victim to this cinematic malaise, be it the sports drama, the romantic comedy, horror films or even dance movies.

The annals of the world of cinema are littered with the latter, and considering so many of them essentially end up being the same sort of movie, I guess it's no surprise that the Wayans clan -- the family responsible for TV's "In Living Color" before branching into movie comedies and spoofs including the "Scary Movie" pics -- have set their sights on them.

The result is "Dance Flick," yet another spoof-filled parody that chose not to watch and learn from the classics of this subgenre and instead opted to go for the cheap, contemporary laughs. Beyond the brief and quite bizarre inclusion of a riff on a scene from "Black Snake Moan" (that featured Samuel L. Jackson chaining Christina Ricci to control her libido and which almost no moviegoers saw and thus won't get the joke), the selected movie targets are easy for moviegoers to i.d.

From more recent pics such as the "High School Musical" films to "Hairspray," "Step Up" and "You Got Served" back to oldies including "Flashdance" and "Fame," this is yet another lame spoof where the entertainment value is based solely on viewers recognizing the movies, individual scenes and/or characters and then getting a cheap and/or crude laugh thrown their way.

While such moments of recognition and related material might get some viewers laughing (and clearly did at our preview screening), it's the easy and lazy way of concocting such films where non-genre material (including brief bits about "Twilight," Halle Berry and more) is also thrown in, with the same sort of viewer realization and quick punch line/joke for good (actually, make that bad) measure.

That's in comparison to spoofs and parodies such as the "Airplane," "Naked Gun" and especially the "Austin Powers" movies where more thought and creativity were put into constructing the characters, plot and jokes into something more than just quick caricatures.

Sure, all of them contained throwaway material from time to time, but they successfully poked fun at their target genres without directly referencing a particular film or character. In short, and particularly in the case of the "Powers" offerings, they created standalone films that didn't need knowledge of the targets to be funny (although familiarity with the genre certainly added to the overall entertainment value) as well as new, fun and funny, and clearly memorable characters.

The same can't and won't be said about this film or others of its ilk that have been released of recent. In fact, and without looking at my notes, I can barely remember much of anything about this pic less than 24 hours after seeing it (probably because I don't think I laughed one time, not even at a very crude sexual image sure to have adolescent-minded males howling). But I can recall scenes from the aforementioned classics in full, even after all of the intervening years.

So, if you like your spoofs quick, easy and dumb, and filled with references that will make you feel smart for recognizing them, then this is a pic for you. But if you like them filled with smarts, creativity and material that will withstand the cinematic tests of time, I'd suggest choosing your favorite dance move to get you over to the video archives to see how it can be done so much better and funnier. "Dance Flick" is nothing but two left feet and thus appropriately rates as a 2 out of 10.

Reviewed May 20 / Posted May 22, 2009

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