High school loser Jason Jackson (Bobb'e J. Thompson) has his heart set on Anastacia (Kristinia DeBarge), a girl way out of his league. But Jason might just have a shot if he can win a spot on the school's hottest dance crew: the Rangers. Conversely, the Rangers tell Jason that to join he must pass an initiation test: have sex with Anastacia and snag her panties as a trophy! Meanwhile trouble looms for the Rangers' leader, Day Day (Dashawn Blanks). He has to earn two thousand dollars by midnight or be executed by Hispanic gang-bangers led by Anastacia's brutal brothers Junior (Mariano Mendoza) and Flaco (Wilmer Valderrama). A solution to everyone's problems arrives with the school dance where Day Day's crew compete for prize money in a talent contest while Jason tries his utmost to impress Anastacia.
Judging from the outtakes over the end credits School Dance was more fun to make than it is to watch. Comedian Nick Cannon's directorial debut seemingly intends to be a fond throwback to the House Party movies of the Nineties, combining raucous teen comedy with extended musical interludes. On the positive side the awkward teenage romance adds a certain sweetness and is engagingly played by screen sweethearts Bobb'e J. Thompson and Kristinia DeBarge, daughter of James DeBarge singer-songwriter with Eighties pop stars DeBarge. The film touches lightly on tensions between the African-American and Hispanic communities within Los Angeles which Jason amusingly likens to vegans and vegetarians warring with each other, though Cannon proves largely uninterested in social satire.
Instead School Dance settles for easy laughs upholding crass urban stereotypes and trite moral messages about learning to "man-up" alongside the usual, tiresome posturing, homophobia and rampant misogyny. If you think the House Party series could be improved with a substantial increase in cursing, Wayans brothers style gross-out low-jinks and more booty close-ups than strictly necessary, this is the film for you. As routinely happens with contemporary comedies there is an over-reliance on rambling, improvised monologues over sharply scripted one-liners. Cannon assembles a cast of seasoned comedians including Mike Epps as an ageing hipster school principal paranoid about boys eyeballing "his bitch": obligatory sexy teacher Miss Johnson (Vivian Kindle), Patrick Warburton as Jason's Malboro Man-like imaginary friend, Luenell as his crazy gun-toting Mama, and George Lopez as Anastacia's protective dad. The latter's monologue about black men with over-sized genitals and a lax attitude to parenting is about as biting as the humour gets.
What few laughs there are centre around Cannon's Real Husbands of Hollywood co-star Kevin Hart who cameos as the jerry-curled leader of a gang of high school dropouts. To their credit the more established players strain hard to wring laughs from some pretty thin material. Elsewhere while Thompson shows potential the remainder of the too cool for school young cast of hip-hop poseurs and Playboy Playmates are seriously shaky. Dashawn Blanks's monotone delivery is especially painful. Cannon's direction is flashy but scattershot. He also contributes several songs to the lacklustre soundtrack and dons a fat suit to appear in a music video as an obese hip-hop star who tells President Barack Obama to go fuck himself. Classy, Nick. Don't count on that White House invite anytime soon.