It would be hard to imagine a film with less going for it than Dance Flick. It is, after all, a Wayans brothers (yuck) spoof movie (double yuck) about dancing teenagers (blech) starring a second-generation Wayans (Damon Wayans Jr.), directed by a lesser Wayans (Damien), and rife with look-alikes riffing on characters from Hairspray, Ray, High School Musical, and Step Up. Oh, and it has David Alan Grier in what appears to be one of Arsenio Hall’s discarded fat suits from his Chunky A days. Every element of the film seems designed to lower expectations. The filmmakers have set the bar so low that they almost can’t help but succeed.
Flick casts newcomer Shoshana Bush as a sturdy dance-movie archetype, the wide-eyed dreamer whose goal of studying classical dance at Julliard seemingly perished in the accident that killed her mother. Bush moves in with father Chris Elliott and discovers the electricity and excitement of street dancing while romancing a young man (Damon Wayans Jr.) torn between his love of dance, his dreams of becoming a doctor, and his thuggish best friend.
Though the Wayans name is now synonymous with scatological spoofery at its most soul-crushing, Dance Flick co-writer and co-star Keenen Ivory Wayans once played a big role in clever spoofs like Hollywood Shuffle, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, and Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood. At its best, Flick resurrects the impish spirit of Keenen’s early parodies, and it helps that the dance-movie genre offers a ridiculous abundance of mothballed conventions to satirize. Dance Flick’s hit-to-miss ratio isn’t particularly high, and it leans heavily on pop-culture-reference-as-punchline comedy and people-falling-down gags, but it maintains a genial tone throughout, and the dancing is fun. Dance Flick benefits from low expectations, but it also requires them. Only in the Wayans-brothers universe would “surprisingly not terrible” almost qualify as a ringing endorsement.