Hollywood Caters to Basest Instinct in Old Skool
- Friday, August 31, 2007
DVD Release Date: August 28, 2007
Theatrical Release Date: April 27, 2007
Rating: PG (for crude sexual humor and profanity)
Run Time: 109 min.
Director: Harv Glazer
Actors: Jamie Kennedy, Maria Menounos, Bobby Lee, Miguel A. Nunez Jr., Michael Rosenbaum, Aris Alvarado
Once again, Hollywood caters to its basest instinct with another uninspired, insulting and cheaply-made rip-off. This time, it’s Big meets The Bad News Bears (remake) meets a very bad skit from Saturday Night Live.
It’s 1986, and 12-year-old Justin is the break dancing Valley Boy king. At his school talent show, he wows everyone—including his Flash Dance crush, Jen. As part of the multiracial “Funky Fresh Boyz” act, Justin’s moves get everyone on their feet. But during his signature head spin, he falls off the stage and lands in a coma.
Twenty years later, Justin’s doctor is callously advising his parents (Debra Jo Rupp and Christopher McDonald) to take him off life support. With some slapstick antics and a few tears, they head back into the room to take care of that task, just as the now 32-year-old Justin (Jamie Kennedy) wakes up, courtesy of a passing Herbie Hancock song (“Rockit”).
Even though the parental unit didn’t pay for physical therapy during Justin’s cerebral snooze, leaving him with shriveled tendons and muscles, they are deeply in debt. So when Justin learns that his parents are facing bankruptcy, he decides to help by winning a dance contest at the local mall.
With the grand prize ($100,000 and one-year television contract) in his sights, Justin sets out to reassemble the “Funky Fresh Boyz”—who are no longer funky, fresh or boys. First, he convinces Darnell (Miguel A. Nunez Jr.), a henpecked store clerk with an angry wife (Vivica A. Fox) and a bunch of kids, to join the gig. They rope in Hector (Avis Alvarado), an overweight meter maid. And these mismatched three approach (Bobby Lee), a Dilbert-like office dweller with enough racial issues to ignite the Cold War with China.
At the mall, Justin runs into Jen (Maria Menounos), now a dance instructor engaged to Kip (Michael Rosenbaum), Justin’s grade school nemesis. Sparks fly. Oddly, even though Justin is the one supposedly caught in the time warp, with an unending supply of headbands and parachute pants, it’s Kip who talks like he still plays Atari every afternoon. But for some reason, Jen doesn’t mind—with either guy.
Unfortunately, Kip is in charge of the dance contest, and he despises Justin, just like he did 20 years ago. You can guess the rest of the film. In fact, the only thing that will surprise anyone about this story—or perhaps not, given its target audience—is the shocking material which includes “jokes” about racial stereotypes; racial slurs; pedophilia; jabs at the homeless and the mentally and physically disabled; crude body humor (urination, vomit, mooning, groping, passing gas); partial nudity and crude sexual situations.
I can’t help but wonder what would make screenwriters (Trace Slobotkin, Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, television writers with no recognizable credits) actually believe that breast-groping lessons, taught by 30-something men who still think like teenagers, might be funny. The same goes for a homeless man urinating on himself (three times) and a man rubbing a woman’s tee-shirts between his legs—to name just a few.
Disgusting content aside (no small thing to do), the acting is basic. Menounos just looks pretty. Rosenbaum is ridiculous. And Kennedy, 37, comes across as an expressionless Adam Sandler wannabe (though why anyone would want to be Sandler…). At 37, he also looks way too old for this part.
The production values are simplistic at best (someone actually overlooked a slipped breast implant during the groping scene). And the plot? Absurdly juvenile. The most annoying issue is that Justin’s character never evolves. He never grows up, never learns anything and never makes even the most basic of changes. He gets the girl and the money (Oops! Spoiler!) and just keeps on wearing his parachute pants and headbands.
First time film director like Harv Glazer should have at least allowed us to see some decent dancing. But the footage is edited so much that we can’t even enjoy Jessie “Casper” Brown, a talented freestyler. And don’t even ask if Kennedy and Co. can dance. It’s painful to watch.
I remember far too much about the constant 80s references this film throws at us. Sadly, they went for quantity over quality. Instead of using these to make a social commentary about some of the real issues we struggled with during those years (divorcing parents; latchkey kids; racism; the introduction of drugs into mainstream culture), everything comes across as stale and absurd. Long before the end of the film, I was already thinking, “Gag me with a spoon.”
AUDIENCE: Very mature teens and adults only
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