July 10, 2014

By Kam Williams

Contributing Writer

 

Nick Cannon is a versatile entertainer known as an actor, comedian, rapper, radio DJ, TV host and as the husband of pop dive Mariah Carey. With School Dance, Nick steps behind the camera to add filmmaker to his extensive resume.

 

His jaw-dropping directorial debut is a raunchy romantic comedy that might be best thought of as Romeo and Juliet gone completely gangsta’. Set at an inner-city high school in Los Angeles, the irreverent romp revolves around diminutive Jason Jackson (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a modestly-endowed virgin with a crush on a cute and curvy classmate.

 

Trouble is Anastacia (Kristina DeBarge) has never even noticed the nondescript nerd. A bigger complication is that he’s black, she’s Chicano, and their respective ethnic groups don’t mix, let alone get along. Nevertheless, Jason accepts a dare from the dudes in his posse to get into her proverbial panties by the end of the semester.

 

To that end, he hatches an elaborate plan to impress the girl of his dreams by winning their high school’s annual talent show which features a grand prize of $2,000. But of as much import as the outcome of that contest is the raucous road the flick en route to that fait accompli.

 

Director Cannon apparently had no trouble casting his first picture, since the screen is filled with top comedians at every turn, from the man of the year Kevin Hart to the resurrected Katt Williams to “Yo’ Momma’s” Wilmer Valderrama to the irrepressible Luenell to the incomparable Mike Epps to George Lopez and Patrick Warburton. All of the above found the elbow room to do their thing, although the production might have benefited from editing out some of their most offensive remarks.

 

For example, the blasphemous rap, “F*ck the President, Barack f*cking Obama. F*ck that n*gger” was a bit much for this critic to stomach, even if the euphoria of historic Election Night 2008 is just a distant memory. Equally off-putting was this line uttered by Lopez as Anastacia’s overprotective father. “I don’t want some little black baby with a big penis running around this house touching all my shit.”

 

Still, I suspect that such shocking fare will find a ready audience in a Hip-Hop Generation weaned on a profusion of profanity and fondness  for  the N-word. A 21st Century update of the beloved Shakespeare classic about a pair of star-crossed lovers from the opposite side of the tracks.

 

Good (2 stars)

 

Rated R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, underage drug use, ethnic slurs and pervasive profanity

 

Running time: 85 minutes

 

Distributor: Lionsgate Films

 

To see a trailer for School Dance, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qKXSL2N0RQ

Category: Arts & Culture

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