The Daily Stream: Dancin': It's On! Is An Overlooked Gem Of So-Bad-It's-Good Cinema

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Dancin': It's On!"

Where You Can Stream It: Tubi

The Pitch: Two dancers from different worlds meet and fall in love as the most important dance contest in the state quickly approaches.

Think about the best dance movies of all time. Now, forget all of them, because would you believe me if I said there was a dance movie that hits every possible convention and somehow creates entirely new ones? Statements like these might be hyperbolic for any other movie, but in the case of the 2015 David Winters film "Dancin': It's On!" all of this is incredibly well-deserved.

Part of me doesn't even want to write this piece. There's a voice in the back of my mind telling me to just end it here and to instead tell you, dear reader, to experience it for yourself as blindly as possible. However, I've come to accept that there are just too few people who have seen "Dancin': It's On!" for me to be that vague. Its Letterboxd page shows that over 700 people have watched it, but that is too low of a view count. I need everyone to watch this movie at least once in their lives so they know what true camp cinema is all about.

Why it's essential viewing

"Dancin': It's On!" really wants viewers to know it's a modern-day Shakespearean romance, even throwing out random Shakespeare references when there really shouldn't be any. The ingredients are all there: young love, class differences, and of course, a statewide dance contest. Okay, maybe that last part isn't a quintessential Shakespeare plot device, but it should be.

However, it really is a story where class divisions and differences collide in various ways. Jennifer (Witney Carson) is a wealthy young woman from Beverly Hills, California, while Ken (Chehon Wespi-Tschopp) is a poor dishwasher at a fancy hotel in Panama City, Florida. When Jennifer visits her father in Panama City for the summer, she and Ken fall in love amidst a backdrop of colorful characters. The characters in question include a popping-and-locking manager known only as the Captain (Russell Ferguson), the main bellboy Danny (Matt Marr), and a rival dancer named Shotsy (Jordan Clark). There's also a mime that pops up from time to time, so there's that.

Here's something beautiful about these performances; they are all ADR'd into the movie. It is excruciatingly clear that nothing these actors are saying was actually recorded during filming, especially given how robotic and monotone their line readings are. Combining this with the baffling written dialogue ("Really? I think you might have some trouble with your brain" is an iconic insult) results in a surreal experience that makes you feel like aliens are trying to replicate what an Earth-based dance movie is like.

It's a perfect day in paradise

Of course, the performances alone aren't the reason why this movie should be considered a so-bad-it's-good classic. After all, people didn't flock to "Manos: The Hands of Fate" or any of Neil Breen's movies just for the slightly inhuman acting – they watched these movies because they were a perfect storm of technical ineptitude, poor writing, and an uncanny idea of how humans on the screen should act.

And folks, "Dancin': It's On" is a sometimes-surreal experience when it comes to its actual technical makeup. Every PowerPoint transition you can think of is crammed into a bizarre advertisement for Panama City tourism, from star wipes to checker wipes. The soundtrack is filled with songs with either far-too-literal lyrics ("I don't wanna be stuck up in my room, cause there's so much I wanna do" is sung as Jennifer mopes and looks out a window) or just utterly bizarre ones (how is "I would run 500 miles to prove I love you, I would even try being a lesbian" supposed to be romantic?). The actual dance scenes are cut together like the part in "Taken 3" where Liam Neeson jumps over a fence. Scenes linger for far too long, making every interaction seem uncomfortable. I could go on forever, but I also want to maintain a bit of mystery surrounding this movie, so I'll spare you the details.

You can't play dance

I understand that purposefully watching bad movies isn't everyone's idea of a good time, and I especially know that I sound very hyperbolic. I am already anticipating quote-retweets saying that this movie is just bad. I understand these possibilities, and I could not care less about them.

"Dancin': It's On!" should be held to the same standard as "Troll 2," "The Room," or "Samurai Cop." It is a beautiful, extravagant, and bizarre mess of a movie that blurs the line between self-awareness and dead-seriousness. You want to think that the people making this movie know exactly how weird it is, but you really can't tell whether this is the case. It is so natural in its seriousness that everyone from both the cast and crew has to have believed they were making a serious, albeit occasionally comical romance movie.

In all honesty, this film deserves better from bad movie enthusiasts. Movies like "The Velocipastor" and "Llamageddeon" are made to be terrible on purpose in order to parody genuinely so-bad-it's-good movies, but the influx of movies like this cause straight-faced cult classics to fall to the wayside. The market is being oversaturated with purposefully bad movies, which is probably why this genuinely bad movie hasn't gotten the credit it deserves.

So please, I implore you to watch "Dancin': It's On!" when you're looking for a campy Z-grade movie to watch. While I can't guarantee you'll enjoy it, you certainly won't forget it.