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Stomp the Junk Yard

Dance Flick (2009)

Glen Wilson/Paramount Pictures

“Dance Flick” should, theoretically, set itself apart from “Epic Movie,” “Disaster Movie” and every other sub-subpar genre parody of recent years. It replaces the dubious duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the men responsible for those atrocities, with the Wayans family. The comedy legends behind everything from “In Living Color” to “Scary Movie” surely could not make a film that’s only marginally better than its recent counterparts, right? Right?

Apparently the comic mojo really has been sucked out of the genre, because the Wayans have made a movie that elicits a few chuckles and a lot of long, awkward silences. From the first slow dance-off set piece straight through the climactic riff on the “Twilight” prom, “Dance Flick” sputters along from one obvious visual pun to another. For all the brainpower amassed in the involvement of nearly every Wayans in show business, you’d think the family could have come up with something a bit more original than simple racial jokes, a baby shooting from the womb to the dance floor and an extended death in which a woman’s body is brutalized like a rag doll by vehicle after vehicle.

If that caliber of comedy utterly bereft of insight and inspiration is the best this family has to offer, the thing for movie fans to do is pray for the genre’s quick hasty death. Long gone are the days of Zucker-level brilliance; even Leslie Nielsen’s droll Frank Drebin persona grew tired in subpar projects like “Spy Hard.” Only the recent “Black Dynamite” has avoided succumbing to the urge to meekly riff on current films, instead skewering its genre by building a precise, concisely conceived absurdist world.

Star Damon Wayans, Jr., who hilariously claims in the press notes to have not been given the job because of nepotism, has the sort of energetic, go for broke charisma the material requires. Beautiful star Shoshana Bush shows an eagerness to engage in scatology that recalls Anna Faris, the Wayans’ most recent discovery. There’s one (1) hilarious pun, delivered with aplomb by Shawn Wayans. The rest of the movie is one giant dead zone.


Opens on May 22 in the United States and on Sept. 18 in Britain.

Directed by Damien Dante Wayans; written by Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Craig Wayans and Damien Dante Wayans; director of photography, Mark Irwin; edited by Scott Hill; music by Erik Willis and Dwayne Wayans; choreography by Dave Scott; production designer, Aaron Osborne; produced by Keenen Ivory Wayans, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez; released by Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. Running time: 1 hour 23 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Damon Wayans Jr. (Thomas), Craig Wayans (Truck), Shoshana Bush (Megan), Essence Atkins (Charity), David Alan Grier (Sugar Bear), Brennan Hillard (Jack), Amy Sedaris (Teacher), Marlon Wayans (Mr. Moody), Shawn Wayans (Baby Daddy) and Affion Crockett (A-Con).


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