2 stars (out of 5)
The next generation of the Wayans family has risen, and say what you will about their forefathers (and mothers), this is a family that thrives on accomplishing things together. By IMDB.com’s humble estimation, there are at least 11 Wayans siblings of varying ages who acted in, produced, executive produced, wrote, directed, composed music, and lord-knows-what-else for this, their latest pop-culture-skewering satire.
And damned if it isn’t laugh-out-loud funny a few times. Megan (Shoshanna Bush), a white girl who transfers to a primarily black school, just wants to dance. She’s quickly befriended by Charity (Essence Atkins), a 21-year-old just finishing high school who brings her baby with her everywhere she goes. Charity’s brother, Thomas (an incredibly charming Damon Wayans Jr.), who catches Megan’s eye, just happens to be part of a dance crew. Megan and Thomas spend time dancing and dating, but Megan is battling demons about not getting into Julliard and causing her mother’s death, and Thomas is worried about coming up with the money he owes to gangster Sugarbear (David Alan Grier, who seems to relish the wearing of a fat suit) after his crew lost the last dance-off.
As in their Scary Movie franchise, the Wayans don’t deliver a film so much as 90 minutes stuffed with sight gags, one-off jokes, and random shout-outs to well-known dance-oriented movies like Save the Last Dance, How She Move, Fame, and High School Musical, to name a few. (Fans of the genre will have fun playing Name That Movie.) The Wayans also have an uncanny ability to cast ridiculously likable and winning people; they gave the world Anna Farris, after all.
But for all of Dance Flick’s smooth moves, there are bone-jarring stops and starts. Within 15 seconds of its opening, there’s a urination gag. Ten seconds after that, a man shoves his head up his own butt. Plenty of other jokes feel a bit dated, which is always the trouble with lampooning pop culture: Celebrity prominence is fleeting, so jokes about Jessica Simpson don’t tickle the funny bone like they used to.