It is a truth universally acknowledged that a genre that has met with some success must be in want of parody. However thin or scant the subject of the parody, the conventions of this formula are so well fixed that a filmmaker has to barely try for such a film to find an audience, and the makers of Dance Flick, the Wayans clan, do just that – barely try.
Now, I have high respect for the Wayans family. They are my old friends. I have attended many of their films with consideration these twenty years at least. Keenan Ivory Wayans’ I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1989) is an obscure early classic of the modern parody genre, and its formula his younger siblings mined for their lucrative Scary Movie franchise. Dance Flick comes from the next generation of Wayans kids – directed by Keenan’s nephew Damien Dante Wayans and starring Damon Wayans Jr. The vague plot of Dance Flick concerns white girl (Shoshana Bush) and troubled black boy (Damon Wayans Jr) overcoming various social pressures to maintain a relationship, and seek success in a local dance competition. The inanity of the storyline is homage to the limp screenplays of countless films of the genre – Honey, Step Up, etc – but is really the glue for a series of piss-takes of familiar television shows and pop-culture figures, like Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, the hit-and-runs of Halle Berry and Lindsay Lohan, the alcoholism of Amy Winehouse and Mel Gibson.
I remember reading a review for Wayne’s World in the pages of this very newspaper some years back. The critic had given it one star, which I thought was poor form indeed. To my young eyes it was fresh and exciting, and there may well be a generation of folk who might see Dance Flick in that same light, but let me explain that single star rating for their benefit. I did laugh throughout this film. I am not denying this family’s talent as comedians. But it is poorly constructed and though talented this family may be, but surely it’s time, my friends, to dance to some new steps and not just endlessly plagiarise yourselves. My good opinion once lost, is lost forever. Laugh as much as you choose, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion. Dance Flick is funny, but it is not handsome enough to dance with.