by Elaine Hegwood Bowen
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Eventually, the Wayans clan will have to spoof themselves, but for now they are having a hoot making fun of others in their new movie, Dance Flick.
Dance Flick is set in Musical High School and centers on a dance challenge to settle two opposing groups’ egotistic dance aspirations. The movie is a parody of dance movies like Fame, Step Up, Flashdance and Save the Last Dance.
Of course, since it’s a Wayans spoof, there must be a silly white girl on which to volley jokes, and Soshana Bush, who plays Megan, is the center of attention. Her dream is to dance, but her life is derailed a bit when her mom is killed as the result of a bad auto accident in which she’s involved on her way to her daughter’s audition. Megan plays the naïve suburban girl who enrolls in the inner-city school looking for acceptance by hanging on to the “in-crowd,” which includes Damon Wayans, Jr., whose character is named Thomas Uncles. Thomas Uncles is the leader of the less thuggish dance group.
The Wayans spin on the mother’s tragedy evokes images of celebrity drunken auto mishaps, including Lindsay and Brandy. In one hilarious scene, as the mother clings to life waiting for emergency rescue, workers move her out of the way, only to retrieve a gas can so they can steal the gasoline from the gas supply truck that was involved in the accident. The mother, fortunately, survives the collision, only to be blown to smithereens after being hit by yet another car.
The movie is laugh after laugh, either dead in-your-face jokes or creative physical comedy. I know it’s at times lame, insensitive, offensive comedy, but it’s laughs nonetheless. And sometimes moviegoers just want to laugh.
The host of the dance competition is Mr. Stache, (moustache), played by Keenan Ivory Wayans. His character seems a direct imitation of the always immaculately dressed comedian Steve Harvey, and in one scene as he’s wearing a yellow suit and shoes, Mr. Stache hawks his own line of clothing.
Essence Atkins plays Charity, who has an infant son with Baby Daddy, played by Shawn Wayans. She brings the poor baby everywhere she goes, to the nightclub and even to school, placing the baby on the hook in her locker while she attends classes. Baby Daddy is so involved in his son’s life that in one scene he literally picks the kid up and promises Charity that he’ll be back next weekend to “pick up the kid again.”
A standout character in the movie is David Alan Grier, who plays Sugar Bear. Sugar Bear is a big, fat, rolypoly gangster who can barely move around in his seat. Sugar Bear is dressed in a fat suit and makes fun of his weight by making references to his size and inability to easily move around. In one scene, he does a rendition of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls. But his references are to food as opposed to love, i.e., “and you’re gonna feed me.”
Marlon Wayans plays acting instructor Mr. Moody; Kim Wayans is school teacher Msdontwannabebothered; and Craig Wayans plays Truck Truck. Nothing is politically correct in Dance Flick; the high school students are encouraged to NOT attend college. Msdontwannabebothered admonishes one couple who is obviously having sex right in the middle of the hallway to NOT use a condom, because “you know you can’t feel anything with a condom on.”
I’m sure I’ve left out some of the Wayans family. But working together, as they build their own movie dynasty that includes cousins and nephews, they’ve done a good job presenting dance-movie clichés that just keep the laughter rolling and rolling.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen is an editor, writer and film critic in Chicago.
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