Drop whatever it is that you are doing right now and go to your Netflix Instant account. Don’t have Netflix? Get out your debit card and pay for a month’s subscription. The reason: one lone movie. I found it a few months ago while aimlessly browsing Netflix for something to watch. I must first admit that I still don’t know what it’s official title is. Netflix has it listed as White Men Can’t Dance but upon looking at the cover art it says Daddy Can’t Dance. It was this kind of attention to detail that first attracted me to it. So did the tag line: “When your back’s to the wall… you gotta hit the floor!”
As best as I can describe it, this is a film that tries to piggyback on the success Sherwood Pictures has had with profitable movies Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous. I have about a million complaints with those films and how they are propagated as great entertainment in the church (I don’t know why loving Jesus means we can get away with producing bad art) but this film takes that model to the stratosphere. Made presumably on a few hundred dollar budget, D/WMCD is the tale of a father’s triumphant attempt to save his daughter’s life from some form of kidney disease. Now, the writer/director/star Peter S. Vinal says this movie is based on something that really happened to him, so I don’t want to be callous when discussing the fact that his daughter was sick and got help. I find this film to be wonderful for the same reasons people watch movies like Birdemic; it's a movie that looks like it was made by someone who has never seen a movie.
Here comes the amazing
Okay, it would take too long to break down all of the most amazing scenes, so we'll stick to the highlights.
1. THE EXPOSITION:
Pete Weaver is an inventor who has a loving wife and a wonderful daughter.
Pete also has a reputation for characters and voices that make him the life of the party.
He got his passion for inventing from his father, but wishes his father had spent more time relaxing in life instead of working so hard. While this is explained in depth, does it ever matter within the story line? No. Also, his dad loves working for this country and thinks that America should be #1!
Pete’s got a great new invention, a neon green, more versatile version of the cup-holder. Finally! The filmmaker actually sells these in real life. But in the movie, someone steals it and Pete loses his job. Uh-oh.
His dad dies pretty early on and the funeral costs wipe out the family savings. Tough break, but at least the family has no big expenditures in the near future. Oh wait, the daughter needs a kidney transplant that will cost $50,000 dollars. Crap. But wait! Pete discovers that he can win $40,000 in a break dancing contest. But he needs to get in shape, because Iceman is coming after him.
2. Middle aged guys rocking out in a car. One of which is the guy that fires him.
3. He flies out two friends of his from his old dancing days.
(No idea how this is paid for, or how they can go so long without working--but never mind the details.)
4. Emotional beach workout scene!
5. Emotional gym workout scene!
6. Pete needs to get back into his old office. Luckily he knows a makeup artist. So this happens.
7. A nightmare sequence, sort of.
Pete’s wife thinks he might be cheating on her with absolutely no evidence. He's just lying to her by not telling her he got fired, sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night and getting back into shape seemingly out of nowhere. Elvis has something to say about suspicious minds.
9. Our first reminder of the villain.
Iceman insists to his dancemates that he ain't scared of no white boy. But he'd better keep practicing, just to play it safe.
10. Middle aged people showing off new dance moves!
11. Middle aged people playfully joking about committing adultery together!
12. Shamelessly plugging a friend’s singing career.
This is a very important scene where Pete discusses his dead father with his dancing mentors, wrapped up neatly with a great animal joke at the end.
Things get tense in the villain's dance-training apartment, and he kicks out his bros.
15. Another costume misadventure.
16. The press conference.
Pete quietly convinces his boss that he didn’t deserve to be fired, and the invention company is having a press conference to show off the awesome cupholder. The press event is--bizarrely--held in the board room, and the reporter seems to be reporting it live as if it is breaking news. She is also awkwardly staring into her camera while talking to the people in the room. Anyway, Pete is finally redeemed and the cupholder thief is caught! This is an amazing scene.
17. The dancing.
The next act takes place entirely during the dance contest and runs for about 30 minutes. Is there important dialogue, backstabbings, or moments of clarity in this part? No, but there is a lot of break dancing! Interestingly enough, you really do not need to give this part of the film much attention, but don't miss Pete's obvious haircut and sparkly jacket.
18. Surprise ending!
Sadly, Iceman wins the competition. But the Children’s Miracle Network miraculously comes through and offers to save their daughter’s life immediately after the contest. And even though they don’t need the money anymore, Iceman says that Pete deserved to win and gives him the money. That turns into a donation for the Children’s Miracle Network--yeah, they're referenced a lot in this movie. My guess is that they helped the real daughter out and now Pete is an indentured servant to them until they get paid.
19. Three middle aged
actors dancers celebrating the only way they know how.
20. THE ENDING:
Okay, so the movie is pretty much over, but we still need to see the man hang up his dancing shoes, for good this time. He's retiring; why put the shoes in his closet? No, he must chuck them out the window and into the yard. And a random kid is just walking through Pete’s yard. He is told he can keep the magic shoes. Then, Pete’s wife wants to enjoy her conjugal rights with this beast of a man! Think that's a weird ending? Don't worry, it is literally painted over by a magical artist that was apparently responsible for the whole tale. Back to normal.
Obviously, this isn’t a good movie. I actually think that one of the most interesting aspects of it is how Peter S. Vinal writes his character, based on himself, as the perfect father, husband, and dancer. There are repeated scenes of people telling him he is such a great father. The wife’s friend says that she would like to know what went on in their bedroom. Just weird stuff like that throughout the whole movie. Also, if this was based entirely on real events, I would tell him that he was being a crappy husband for compulsively lying to his wife. Anyway, don’t analyze the film for its merits (there aren't any). Just watch this awkward pile of amazing and marvel at it.