In this rapid-fire Wayans brothers parody of modern musicals and their streetwise choreography, Thomas Uncles is a bright young African-American blessed with mad hip-hop hoofing skills. As the film gets under way, he's at a crossroads, feeling pressure to embrace inner-city thug life. Lucky for him, he's about to meet lily-white Megan White, a tortured soul from the suburbs who'd dreamt of Julliard until her mother's accidental death, for which Megan harbors guilt and can't bring herself to pirouette anymore. She moves to the big city to live with her deadbeat dad, befriends Thomas and his sister, Charity, and is invigorated by fresh urban rhythms as she spins, thrusts and glides her way out of the doldrums.
If that sounds a lot like the story arc for Save the Last Dance, it's because that racially charged Julia Stiles film provides the backbone for this crass comedy, which also riffs on Hairspray, Step Up, Stomp the Yard, High School Musical, You Got Served, Little Miss Sunshine, Dreamgirls and others.
Thomas values a teammate's safety above winning a competition, and he insists that his friend not do a dangerous dance move. He encourages Megan to rediscover her love for dance. In turn, she tells him he's cut out for better things than he'll find on the streets.
Instructed by obese mobster Sugar Bear to carry out a drive-by shooting, Thomas refuses to participate and advises buddy A-Con to do the same. It could be argued that a string of absurd situations exposes two selfish teenage parents as immature and irresponsible, and suggests that babies deserve better care.
Thomas says, "I don't know why porn stars pray," and imagines God tuning them out because they offend Him. During an accusatory rant, he piles more guilt on Megan for causing her mother's death, adding, "God hates you!" A-Con wears a cross around his neck.
Prurient stuff. Beyond the low-cut dresses and suggestive dance moves (at one point, Megan wears short shorts and bares her midriff for pole dancing), there's a lot of racy dialogue and intimations of characters sleeping together. Charity gives her number to a married guy, telling him she thinks his wedding ring is sexy. This unwed mother—who birthed her first child mid-breakdance—suggests to her absentee Baby Daddy that they have another one. At one point, female dancers sport comically exaggerated breasts and backsides, and a pair of disco balls dangle from a man's shorts.
The filmmakers ponder the question "What if Zac Efron's character in High School Musical had been gay?" Here, high school hoopster Jack (the coach's son) dances out of the closet to the tune of "Fame," changing the words to Irene Cara's hit in order to celebrate his homosexuality. This mini-production number sends him out of the gym and into the street to flirt with smitten men. Elsewhere he wants to play the role of Juliet and tells his clueless dad about his urges. Dad naively thinks he's interested in girls, and suggests that he lose his virginity to a prostitute so that his first time is "special."
In a nod to the finale of Twilight, Megan and Thomas prepare to consummate their friendship on prom night, both noting that sex should be shared by people planning to be together for a long time. (While that's better than a one-night stand, it's still a ring removed from God's plan of intimacy in marriage.) Thomas' dreams of medical school stem from a desire to see women naked, and he describes in tasteless detail what he looks forward to examining. Other jokes involve oral sex, condoms, lesbians, sodomy and an infant contracting a venereal disease.
Perverse adults include a randy high school guidance counselor, and Marlon Wayans as an acting teacher who kisses a male student on the mouth, then suggests that one be ready to do anything to get a part. Much is made of a female dance instructor's unusually large private region, which bulges beneath her leotard.
Heavy doses of physical comedy range from slapstick and crude sight gags to meanspirited abuse. While practicing ballet in the living room, Megan KO's her mother, little sister and the mailman with violent kicks to the face. A teacher slaps a student. Charity repeatedly whacks her infant son against a window while trying to pull him back into her apartment. A blind boy falls into an open manhole. Club Violent is where everyone goes to dance and where all the playas "go to get shot." Though none get fired, characters brandish guns in a threatening manner. A-Con uses his to rob a bunch of nightclubbers. Even Charity's baby packs heat.
Verbal abuse from a cruel dance instructor causes a young woman to commit suicide by leaping through a window. During a dangerous dance move, a guy slides out the door and down the street, plunging to his death off an unfinished overpass. After flipping her vehicle in a wreck, Megan's mom is struck by two cars and a minivan before her body flies into an open grave. Later, Thomas and Megan attend a ballet company's theatrical interpretation of that tragic event.
Megan gets into a fistfight with another girl. Thomas is struck by lightning. Misogyny bubbles to the surface when Thomas brutally pounds Megan for invading his space after she misinterprets his dance instruction ("Hip-hop is aggressive"). A drama teacher shows his class a scene in which a character amputates his own leg. A morbidly obese man pancakes a guy on the dance floor.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Baby Daddy lets his infant son sip a mixed drink at a bar. In flashback, Megan is pulled over for DUI, fails the breathalyzer test, and unleashes a flood of alcohol and empty bottles when she opens her car door (a spin on those now-iconic drunk-driving PSAs). People drink at a club.
Other Negative Elements
With the tact of a choleric drill sergeant, a dance instructor rudely criticizes leotard-wearing women whose looks don't meet her unrealistic standards. Girls are just as rotten to each other, sniping about one another's looks or lack of style. Charity hangs her baby up in her school locker, then closes the door.
While busting a move, a man's head is somehow inserted in his own rear end, while another showers onlookers with a stream of urine. Rival dance crews wager thousands of dollars on a competition that is won by cheating. A leaping ballerina experiences flatulence. Megan uses a fake ID to get into Club Violence. Despite a hint of irony, she concludes that a college education and worthwhile career can't compare with the respect earned in the streets.
A guy wears a T-shirt for the group Public Enemy.
Dance Flick star Damon Wayans Jr. says, "There's been so much dance involved in our culture lately that somebody needs to make fun of it." I can't argue with that. The genre is definitely ripe for ribbing. But somewhere along the line, Hollywood and the Wayans clan decided that a sense of humor equals throwing a bunch of perverse jokes and sight gags onto the screen. It's a waste of time and talent.
At one point in this film, there's a wisecrack about Thomas wearing a "Bill Cosby sweater." Sadly, that sweater is the only thing Dance Flick has in common with the veteran comedian's infinitely cleaner, funnier shtick. Come to think of it, maybe an earful of classic Cosby routines such as "The Dentist," "Old Weird Harold" and "Chocolate Cake for Breakfast" is just what I need to wipe away the foul aftertaste of Dance Flick.