'School Dance': Film Review
July 2 (Lionsgate)
Bobb'e J. Thompson, Luenell, Mike Epps, George Lopez, Katt Williams, Wilmer Valderama, Kristinia DeBarge
Nick Cannon makes his directorial debut with this hip-hop-infused sex comedy.
Teen sex farces don't come more witless than entertainer Nick Cannon's feature directorial debut. Fueled by endless scatological jokes revolving around black and Mexican-American stereotypes, this hip-hop-infused effort features a gallery of notable comedians working hard to earn laughs that never come. Sneaked into a limited theatrical run primarily to raise VOD interest, School Dance is the sort of oppressively offensive comedy that makes you aware of your brain cells dying as you watch it.
There is at least an element of sweetness to the proceedings in the form of lead character Jason (Bobb'e J. Thompson), a diminutive and less than well-endowed virginal high school student who has a hopeless crush on his beautiful classmate Anastacia (Kristinia DeBarge), who barely knows he exists. His only hope to impress her is to join the school's hottest "clique" and help them win a hip-hop, "Lock-In" dance competition, which offers a $2,000 prize.
Complicating his efforts are his wildly overbearing, obese, gun-toting mother (Luenell); Anastacia's Chicano gang-leader brother (Wilmer Valderrama); and her prejudiced father (George Lopez), who doesn't want her dating blacks because "they talk to you with their mack-daddy lingo, holding their giant penises."
Among the other characters on display are the school's pot-smoking principal (Mike Epps), who makes expletive-filled announcements over the loudspeaker system; a white teacher who admonishes her students, "Don't talk back to a pimp … respect my gangsta"; and a prison inmate (Katt Williams) whose money problems fuel what little else there is of the plot. There's also a pair of buffoonish white cops (Jim Breuer, Jessica Kirson), one of whom is named Officer P'eniss, and Jason's imagined guardian angel, the macho Prairie Puff Man (Patrick Warburton), who shows up periodically to lend romantic advice.
Featuring endless leering shots of scantily clad young women shaking their booties into the camera — it even includes the requisite slow-motion erotic car-washing scene — the film could be described as misogynistic except that the male characters are equally offensively portrayed. The numerous music and dance sequences provide some diversion, even if they seem primarily designed to provide the filmmaker the opportunity to contribute to the soundtrack.
Cannon, who also co-scripted, attempts to infuse the proceedings with various stylistic devices, including onscreen graphics and freeze-frames, to mostly negligible effect. And while Thompson and DeBarge are appealing, the veteran comic performers in the supporting cast are unable to rise above the inane material.
The final sequence, a profane rap number whose lyrics include "F—k the president, Barack f—king Obama," is followed by the inevitable end-credit outtakes, indicating that the film was much more fun to make than to watch.
Production: N'Credible Entertainment
Cast: Bobb'e J. Thompson, Luenell, Mike Epps, George Lopzez, Katt Williams, Wilmer Valderama, Kristinia DeBarge
Director: Nick Cannon
Screenwriters: Nick Cannon, Nile Evans
Producers: Michael Goldman, Miguel A. Nunez Jr.
Executive producers: Marc Bienstock, Charisse Nesbit
Director of photography: Michael Lohman
Editor: Erik C. Andersen
Production designer: Mayne Berke
Costume designer: Frank Helmer
Composer: Geoff Zanelli
Rated R, 86 min.