The saving grace for cinema’s latest spoof, Dance Flick, is that Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer—the force behind the recent glut of Movie movie send-ups—are nowhere to be seen. This is only a slight silver lining, however, since comparing the quality of Dance Flick with, say, Epic Movie (2007) is akin to debating which Wayans brother is supposed to be the funny one.
For anyone with the intestinal fortitude for such a debate, this movie is the place to start. With, by my count, a whopping 11 credited Wayans kinfolk (I guess Zeppo Wayans was busy, or we could’ve had an even dozen), including brothers, sisters and second cousins twice removed all rolling out like oranges from the film’s first frame. And the sole purpose of this cavalcade of Wayans is to parody the overabundance of dance movies that have flooded theaters over the past few years. Theoretically, the dance movie should be ripe for satirizing, since it’s a genre ripe with cliché and formula. But unfortunately, Dance Flick is a spoof, and spoofs are inherently crippled by a natural silliness that always tends to go for the most painfully obvious gag imaginable. The modern-day spoof is never more than some pointless slapstick and a parade of meaningless pop-culture references.
The pop-culture references in Dance Flick are never delivered with the same slap-you-over-the-head heavy-handedness as with Friedberg/Seltzer movies, meaning the brothers Wayans at least trust their audience to know what a reference to Ray (2004) looks like. But this, however, brings up the question of why an allusion to a 5-year-old movie about a man who wasn’t a dancer is included in something called Dance Flick to begin with.
The movie is full of these kinds of oddities. Mentions of You Got Served (2004) or Step Up (2006) are to be expected. But I’d like someone to explain how a 10-second parody of Craig Brewer’s Black Snake Moan (2006) fits into this movie. Or why a joke about Halle Berry running over a pedestrian—a reference to a real-life incident that occurred more than nine years ago—is even relevant.
Of course, I’d rather take these awkward pop references over the rest of the movie’s idea of humor. This is a film that features one Wayans urinating on another Wayans whilst dancing, and a man inserting his head up his own rectum—in the first five minutes. It’s a movie where poor, poor Amy Sedaris beat boxes through her vagina. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, I hope the paycheck was nice. It’s a movie so stuck in neutral that the unfortunate Wayans Brothers recycle a condom joke from 1996’s Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (I too am amazed that I remember anything about Don’t Be a Menace). Classy, this movie is not. Or funny. Or even watchable, really. But Dance Flick isn’t White Chicks (2004) either, so it has that going for it. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout and language.