[11 June 2010]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
They say God works in mysterious ways (and anyone whose sat through the Micheff Sisters vegetarian cooking exhibitions on the 3ABN Network can attest to that), but none have been more bizarre, more baffling in their sacrosanct ridiculousness than C Me Dance (yes, that’s the actual title). The faithful often accuse the secular of crapping all over their attempts to bring the Lord’s good word to the masses via moviemaking and other outlets - and with good damn reason. Most of these efforts are awful, pandering to an already converted contingent while completely locking out the individuals most in need of an inspirational message. After all, what does it say about Christian filmmaking that the most potent pro-JC missives come from Michael Tolkin’s brilliant end of times drama, The Rapture?
This hasn’t stopped writer/director/producer/star Greg Robbins from trying though. Lost in a world where the Messiah rides dinosaurs and the Big Boss Man hates homosexuals, he’s been responsible for a string of bizzaro world media entries, including the faith-based courtroom show Almighty Justice, the pro-God sitcom Pastor Greg, and the religious exercise program Professor Bounce’s Kid Fit. Of course, he realizes that such specialized programming is not going to reach out to the wealth of sinners wandering around the 5,000 year old planet, so he decided to ride the coattails of the urban dance genre, except without any interracial romance, any city setting, any real conflict, or any real talent. Thus was re-born the abysmal C Me Dance, a film about ballet, bribing the Lord, and taking on Beelzebub.
Robbins is Vince, the doting father figure for Balanchine wannabe Sheri (an awkward Christina DeMarco). While all our amiable adolescent wants to do is dance and hang out, her dad keeps reminding her of Jesus and the whole “died for our sins” stuff. One day, Sheri is diagnosed with terminal leukemia, ending her dreams of tutus and hammer toe. Vince, angry that his prayers and churchgoing have lead to a dying daughter, asks Christ to spare his child. The Holy Ghost acquiesces, and soon Sheri is saving souls for Heaven. How? Well, it seems that our heroine is now gifted with a special touch. All she had to do is lay her hands upon a non-believer, and through the magic of a mediocre vision of the savior on the cross, they are converted. Naturally, this pisses off Satan, sending him up to Earth to stop Sheri and her preaching Pops before they can turn the populace against evil and all its easy answer elements for good.
Like a mass spoken in Klingon that meanders around for far too long, C Me Dance offers little of the promise its outstandingly stupid premise promises. Hope to see the Devil deflate Sheri’s hopes by putting the hurt of Hell on her? Ain’t gonna happen. How about a rousing dance finale where our heroine’s overhyped skills are put to the test. Uh-uh. Does Sheri actually stop smut from being peddled and reduce the crime rate, including the horrific offense of rape? Boy howdy, does she ever. This gifted Miss is so engorged with the grace of Gee Whiz that she even gets Tinseltown to stop making their morally and ethically inappropriate product. Apparently, turning out unbelievably bad bullspit like this was not part of the new holy Hollywood redesign.
Sometimes, when an artist wears their passion out on their sleeves for all to see, the results are revelatory. We gain insight into the individual and marvel at how well they make the medium fit their sometimes stilted or stunted message. In this case, however, Robbins is so obsessed with all things Bible that he’s literally blinded to how horrific a filmmaker he really is. Scenes collide into each other with narrative rhyme or reason. Character motivation is spelled out in children’s building blocks, and usually rather badly. Special effects run the gamut from the days of the Video Toaster to the epic scope of a Commodore 64, and the editing matches the mash-up quality of the storytelling discordant beat for beat. By the end, when righteousness is battling the demonic for ultimate control of the cosmos, all we care about is how tenuous the lighting, acting, cinematography, and this film’s grip on reality truly is.
You see, if Robbins knew the first thing about effective direction, he if understood that the best way to reach the tuned out or disinterested is by giving them something they can’t avoid - entertainment wise - he’d have an audience ripe for a little celluloid tent revival. Instead, he ladles on the Lord like a priest pawing at an under-aged parishioner. There is something uncomfortable about having faith so in your face, a kind of creative intolerance that suggests that, those who haven’t found salvation are somehow lesser human beings than the inert objects that pass for people in the movie. With the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s favorite Superstar stuck front and center and the ridiculous concept that terminal illness can basically be wished away, Robbins reduces drama to a series of unsubtle sermons. All we need are some loaves and fishes to make the prostylitizing complete.
Of course, there will be a big ol’ backlash from those who find anything remotely related to religion and the power of Christianity nothing short of flawless. They will question this critic’s conviction and tag him as anything from a bigot to Aton LaVey to someone who hates America and eats kittens. Still, even if half of those accusations were true, it would make him 1000 times better than this belligerent, bewildering bit of brainwashing. If we are to take the word of God - or whomever created said deity - as being the moral equivalent of an overlong tweet, than Greg Robbins and his self-centered rectitude offers grounds to delete his afterlife user name pronto. C Me Dance is just that bad. While he may be saved, his viewers sure aren’t - not from an eternity of endless pain and turmoil, and not from a movie so mediocre that it has to resort to some help “from above” to avoid utter irrelevance…and even that doesn’t work. May Jebus have mercy on us all.
Rating: 3 WTFs