Napoleon Dynamite and other dance scene movies

Time to break open the scope on this blog a bit and chat a bit about movies — not overtly fanboyish movies like Blade but movies in general.

You see, today I was speculating about a new subgenre of popular non-musicals. Outsider movies that feature a “big finish” dance scene. Specifically, Napoleon Dynamite and its lesser cousin, Little Miss Sunshine.

The climaxes of both of these movies turn on a dance performance – a dance that goes against type, that surprises its audience, that affects the quest of the central characters.

These movies are testaments to the transformative power of dance.

The seed of this movement was germinated back in 1994’s Reality Bites, in one of the funniest scenes of the movie. While on the road, the characters spontaneously do kind of a sitting Cabbage Patch to Squeeze’s “Tempted.”

Reality Bites trivia:

  • Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Heche, and Parker Posey, virtual unknowns at the time, all auditioned for the role of Vickie Miner, which eventually went to Janeane Garofalo.
  • Bites was also Renee Zellweger’s big-screen debut.
  • Zellweger has only one g, as I just found out.
  • Bites was written by my high school classmate Helen Childress. (Note how it’s set in Houston.) We have various theories about who Ethan Hawke’s character is based on, and whether the name of his band references a Super 8 film we made.
  • In said film, I get my hand run over by a psycho who turns up in my apartment elevator, follows me to the garage, and steals my car. That’s pretty much the entire plot.

Beware, however. Soon dance will start to insidiously infiltrate the content of the movies. First it’ll be a dance number during the credits after one of these “big finish” movies. Then it’ll be a character who sends secret messages with his toes during the scenes leading up to the big dance. And finally, it’ll be a dialog-less movie where the entire plot is communicated through tap-danced morse code and interpretive dance.

Beware. You heard it here first.

Dangerous movies


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