Holy smokes! I never thought I’d say this, but I actually had a blast watching Nick Cannon’s feature directorial debut, SCHOOL DANCE, this is a really funny movie and it’s got tons of familiar faces from George Lopez and Kat Williams to Kevin Hart and Wilmer Valderrama. The jokes hit the targets, and it’s not just a black-centric comedy either, it’s a high school comedy with a few sideline sketches on the side but it’s as if in a sea of mild to simply boring comedy movies out there, Nick Cannon and his co-scribe know exactly what can make us laugh. SCHOOL DANCE is fun, hysterical and downright cool.
Bobb’e J. Thompson is our lead man in SCHOOL DANCE, I was a huge fan of his hilarious starring role in ‘Role Models’ a few years back. Bobb’e plays a high schooler who’s a lot shorter than everybody else and just like everybody else, he too wants to fit in and there’s this rap group called the Rangers which tells him that if he wants to join in, he has to get the panties of a certain hot girl in school and that’s where Anastacia comes in, the girl of Bobb’e’s dreams in this movie.
By the way, it’s interesting in and of itself to see Bobb’e play some kind of shy nerd who has trouble rapping when in fact Bobb’e is actually a damn good rapper in real life.
The school in SCHOOL DANCE is filled with colorful characters and cliques, one of which is the hispanic gang led by Wilmer Valderrama’s character. One of the members of the rangers has a dad, played by Kat Williams, who’s in prison and owes this gang some money. Kat, one of the funniest comedians working today, gives a scene-stealing performance in SCHOOL DANCE, his is a must-see.
That same evening there is to be a lock in, it’s an event where for one night, students get to spend the night at the gym socializing and this is an event where things get rowdy and wild with parties bumpin’, there’s a contest with $2,000 grand prize and so the rangers are hoping to win in order to get their friend out of trouble. All the while, there’s another gang led by Kevin Hart, and also a couple of incompetent cops who help make this movie even more hilarious than it already is.
I think all in all, the reason why SCHOOL DANCE’s humor works effectively is because it’s built around the characters, and so no matter how silly it may get, it never goes astray from what the characters are all about, and sure it may be also about the usual high school complexities, like trying to fit in or the pressure of losing your virginity, but SCHOOL DANCE approaches it straightforward without make it too dramatic and it also doesn’t make light of them either.
For example, George Lopez plays the father of the girl that our lead has a crush on, and Lopez’s character has a scene in which he gives his daughter a fatherly advice about not to date black men, he generalizes that black men will smooth his way into your life, get you pregnant and then run off or disappear like a magician, but then his own hispanic culture young men aren’t giving him enough reasons to defend them. These are typical speeches that many parents out there give to their children behind closed doors. And so I don’t think SCHOOL DANCE necessarily is saying black men are cool and hispanics are not and vice versa, no. I think SCHOOL DANCE is trying to say that there will always be lazy folks in any culture or any ethnicity, it doesn’t mean that they are all lazy,because there will always be a few good apples worth getting to know. So that whole speech by Lopez could’ve easily turned into something that’s unnecessarily long or too dramatic with a mopey music score on the background, but nope, that whole speech was complimented with humor in between, along the way, so on one hand, it never loses its funny and on the other hand, at the same time, it retains its seriousness as well.
I think SCHOOL DANCE is a well-balanced Romeo & Juliet-esque comedy that accomplishes exactly what it set out to do from the get-go.