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Freak Dance

Cast: Michael Cassady, Megan Heyn, Sam Riegel, Angela Trimbur, Hal Rudnick.

(US DVD: 10 Jul 2012)

Cocolonia (Megan Heyn) leaves behind her uptight mother (Amy Poehler) and runs straight into the arms of a rough and tumble-ish dance group led (more or less) by Funky Bunch (Michael Cassady). The group must save the local community center, Fantaseez, from being shut down and win a dance-off.


This may have been enough to get this turkey off the ground for some, but all you really need to know is that this is sucker––an overlong sketch that should have been put out of its misery at about the two minute mark but is instead stretched to one hour and 20-some minutes beyond that––is not funny. The lines are perpetually unfunny––the bit about the guy who dances on the ceiling would have been funny in a college improv group, but is less so here––and the songs––and the humor found within them––equally weak. And unfunny.


None of the actors really seem to connect with their characters––most of them are too busy making fun of them instead of finding ways to make them funny. It’s unlikely that that contempt was intentional––it rarely is––but its blatant throughout and one thing that will keep most viewers from connecting with the material.


Freak Dance boasts Tim Meadows, Horatio Sanz, and Amy Poehler in the cast, but if you’d have better luck finding them at Wal-Mart than in this film. This is, after all, a vehicle for Cassady and Heyn who are, as it turns out, not really that funny. At least not here. Heyn’s painfully doe eyed to the point that her caricature of a character is so painful we ought to be ashamed for continuing to watch. As for Cassady? Not much better.


And even a parody of a musical about dancing should have some memorable songs but the ones heard here are too busy––you guessed it––making fun of songs in musicals about dancing to get it right. Subtlety, it turns out, takes an audience a few extra inches every now and again and can even help make a comedy funny.


Moreover, the actors labor too long on the jokes, as if they think the audience is too stupid or slow to get what’s just been said. Couple that with the aforementioned contempt that the actors––many of them at least––seem to carry for their characters and what more can you do than watch in absolute horror? 


Sam Riegel (Barrio) and Angela Trimbur (Sassy) are two of the better things about Freak Dance, but not even their obvious talents can make it worth seeking out.


That this slab is affiliated with the Upright Citizens Brigade alone cannot save it––anymore than the National Lampoon affiliation could save Class Reunion and Movie Madness.


The most enjoyable part of the DVD may be the “Dangers of Freak Dancing” vignettes found on the extras. Taken in the smallest of doses, it’s actually kind of funny. The deleted and extended scenes are nice if you found the rest of the (unfunny) film funny, but why one would wade through the directors’ audio commentary remains beyond this writer’s comprehension.

Rating:

Extras rating:

Jedd Beaudoin is an award-winning writer and broadcaster. He holds an MFA in creative writing (fiction) from Wichita State University and hosts Strange Currency six nights week for Wichita Public Radio. His writing has appeared in No Depression and The Crab Orchard Review as well as at websites such as Ytsejam.com and Amazon.com.


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