Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Spontaneous Eruption of Dance

Calling All Stargazers!

The Dance Movie Blogathon officially began Sunday, May 4th! It has been brought to you by Ferdy on Films, etc. I had been promoting it on my sidebar until the banner somehow disappeared. Here’s the promotional image that used to be on my sidebar:

But you’re not here to ogle a Jessica Alba image…that’s for a whole different kind of post. You’ve come in search of my dance movie entry into the blogathon.

I don’t pretend to know what makes a choreographed dance sequence in a film brilliant or breathtaking but I know what I like. One thing I go wild over is when a great comedy takes it one step further by adding a smidge of music/dance into the mix. I refer to these moments as the Spontaneous Eruption of Music & Dance. One of my all-time favorite examples of this is after the climactic ending to The 40-Year-Old Virgin when Andy looks into the camera and begins singing Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, which leads into an impromptu celebration of dance of Dionysian proportions.

But this isn’t a recent advent; another great example is Caddyshack, which is bookended by the now famous gopher gyrating to the semi-soulful sounds of Kenny Loggins’ I’m Alright. Great moments, but that’s not the film I am here to discuss.

I have chosen to revisit a film that won the prestigious honor as Most Memorable Music/Dance Performance of 2007 from my Confessions of a Reel Whore feature. I present, for your consideration…

Hot Rod stars Andy Samberg as Rod Kimble, a self-proclaimed stuntman. While his stunt antics are comical, they are also uneven, creating a less than spectacular film. No matter, though; stars Samberg, Bill Hader, Danny R. McBride, Jorma Taccone and, let me not forget, Chester Tam all provide a wealth of entertainment through dance. Here’s a quick rundown of all the great dance moments and why I love them so.

Andy Samberg: After a heated confrontation with his stepfather Frank, Rod storms from the house. Cut to a foggy patch of woods where Rod rolls in on his moped, fuming. He’s drinking and smoking but those vices aren’t enough to quell his anger. The only release for his aggression and frustration is by acrobatically punch-dancing to the groovy synthetic tunes of Never by the Moving Pictures. Though the solitary performance ends in an abrupt finale, rhythmically speaking, it’s great fun from start to finish.

Jorma Taccone, Bill Hader and Danny R. McBride: As Rod’s respective stunt crew, the trio is called upon to save Rod at any moment of danger. The most strategic rescue occurs when the film diverges into an attempt to force a clich├ęd romantic subplot between Rod and Denise (Isla Fisher). Seeing the scene falling into drudgery, the director has the fellas crack open their van’s side door and bust a move to the 80’s pop vibrations of Two of Hearts by Stacey Q. For first-time viewers, be sure to watch over Rod’s shoulder as the awkward dialogue is subverted to the spectacle of Hader and McBride.

Chester Tam: Andy Samberg may be the main character, but Chester Tam’s stint as Richardson is a show stopper. His character has only a few lines, but he’s not there for speaking, he’s there for gyrating! In a brief sequence by the community pool, a sopping wet Richardson thrusts away, fittingly, to DJ Rumpleskillzkid’s Thrust Away.

The director, knowing a good thing when he sees one, keeps Tam hidden until the third act. It is there Tam and his gyrating pelvis are unleashed upon unsuspecting audiences in a montage heightened by the dance mix The Real Bass by Brooklyn Bounce. Tam distributes flyers for Rod’s upcoming stunt by tossing them into the air in a sort of mock ticker-tape explosion, which he follows with the most insanely random yet mesmerizing marriage of comedy and dance in the entire film.

I hereby declare Hot Rod a masterpiece of impromptu dance as a source of comedy. You may say that it’s been done before, and in the years to come even more clever examples may surface, but Hot Rod has made an indelible mark in the annals of Spontaneous Eruptions of Dance.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. I could not agree more with you about this great fusion of impromptu dancing and comedy. I thought the comic timing was beautiful - particularly that great move when one of the trio in the second clip slams the other one into the van. I'm serious - that's great timing. Totally agree about Tam, too. This director knew how to work with dance.

    Thanks for this and for participating!

  2. My wife absolutely loves the van smash moment.

    I almost wish Hot Rod had been a full blown dance film, it would've improved many of the weaker moments.