Eric's Bad Movies: 'C Me Dance' (2009)

One of the problems facing modern-day Christians is the fact that so many of their fellow modern-day Christians make them look bad. For every humble soul who genuinely tries to do good to others, care for the poor, and love his neighbor, you've got a loudmouthed jackass picketing soldiers' funerals or setting Korans on fire. And then there's the embarrassment of well-intentioned but terrible Christian-themed entertainment like "C Me Dance," a movie so disastrous it may qualify for FEMA intervention. The Apostle Paul told the Romans that he was not ashamed to be a Christian, but he never saw "C Me Dance."

This will-to-live-sucking melodrama was the brainchild of one Greg Robbins, an undoubtedly nice fellow who's been writing and directing uplifting TV shows and movies for the last decade or so. "C Me Dance" was actually released in movie theaters somehow, possibly due to a clerical error, and earned more bad reviews than it did dollars. Every theater that showed it was subsequent struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

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It is the story of Sheri (Christina DeMarco), a teenage Christian girl whose mother died when Sheri was a baby, leaving her to be raised by her adoring Christian father, Vince (played by Robbins, who looks like an especially bloated Beau Bridges). Sheri is a promising ballet dancer, as evidenced by the many scenes in which the actress' body double dances beautifully while being photographed from a distance, from the waist down, or in dim lighting. Then one day at dance practice, Sheri collapses to the floor in a comically abrupt manner! You assume Sheri is pretending to be ill, but no, she really is ill -- the actress just isn't any good. (That's right, the young woman playing Sheri cannot even fall down convincingly.) We cut to a doctor's office, where Dr. Beth (Laura Romeo) has the following exchange with Sheri and Vince:

DR. BETH: I've gone over Sheri's test results, and I'm sorry, but Sheri has leukemia.

SHERI: Dad...?

VINCE: No, no, no, it's OK. Look, let's get started on treatment right now.

DR. BETH: Unfortunately, she's in the advanced stages, and treatment's not going to help.

SHERI: No! I'm not going to die!

This is the clip they showed at the Oscars.

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Now that she's been diagnosed with leukemia -- the advanced, terminal kind, the kind where the only symptom is collapsing once -- Sheri is free to fulfill her inner desire of being a jerk to everyone. She rejects all demonstrations of concern from her father and friends, even exclaiming "Just stop loving me!" at one point, because her leukemia is also the kind that makes you say things in dialogue that were supposed to remain subtextual.

But Sheri has a change of heart after she has a dream in which her heathen friend Ally (Samantha Sham) calls out to her to save her from drowning. It must be, Sheri concludes, that God wants her to use her remaining time on earth to convert Ally. (Sheri does not even consider the possibility that Ally is literally drowning.) Quick as you please, Sheri does indeed help Ally to be born again.

THAT'S WHEN THINGS GET WEIRD. Up to this point the movie has been a cringeworthy smorgasbord of poor acting, weak dialogue, and general butterfingeredness -- but at least it has made sense within the world it inhabits. A religious girl finds out she's dying, feels inspired by God to bring others to Him, sets out to do so. Okay! BUT THEN THINGS GET WEIRD. I'm sorry, I know I'm yelling and that I already said that. I just want to emphasize how weird things get, even for viewers who have been onboard with what's happened so far.

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Sheri is suddenly endued with spiritual powers far beyond her wildest, most spiritually fulfilling imagination. All she has to do to convert people is touch them. If she touches you, you see a split-second vision of the Crucifixion, and you're instantly converted. What if you don't want to be converted? What if you're a perfectly happy Jew or Muslim or Buddhist? TOO BAD, STUPID. You should have thought of that before you let Sheri touch you. You're a Christian now.

This power first manifests itself in a major way as Sheri is walking home from school and Jacob (Joe Pawlenko), a jerky guy who sometimes hits on her, drives up alongside and tries to get her into his car. Sheri politely but firmly refuses, whereupon Jacob leaps from the car and chases her down the street on foot, intending to do goodness-knows-what when he catches her. While this is happening, Vince's phone rings at work, but nobody's on the line when he answers it, and so he realizes Sheri is in danger. (Evidently the Holy Spirit was able to dial Vince's number but not to say anything aloud.) Vince jumps in his car, speeds across town, and arrives in time to save his daughter from her attacker. Sheri touches Jacob and a couple bystanders, and poof, everyone's converted.

Now Sheri's a lean, mean, convertin' machine. But you know who isn't happy about it? The devil, that's who. He starts appearing before Sheri in the form of a man dressed in black, and he is steamed! To be fair -- to play devil's advocate, if you will -- it is a bit of a cheat for God to give someone the power to save souls merely by touching them, as this eliminates the sporting chance that Satan has traditionally had. I'd be a little peeved, too, if I were Lucifer.

Anyway, despite the occasional satanic threats, Sheri continues to go around touchin' and savin'. To help her reach more people, her pastor suggests she get on stage at an upcoming Battle of the Bands contest while a Christian rock group is performing. When he mentions the band's name, Vince says, "I know those guys! I hear them on the radio all the time." And Sheri says, "Wow, Dad! I didn't know you were so hip!" That may sound like nonsense, but I suppose if you can believe that an audience at a rock concert would tolerate a sermon in the middle of the show, you can also believe that Christian rock music is on the radio all the time, and that being familiar with it makes you cool.

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Soon the churches are filled with new converts thanks to Sheri's hands-on missionary efforts. There are dramatic effects on society. Some guy who doesn't have a name but who is one of the pastor's friends hurries in with a newspaper and says, "In the last two weeks, murders and rapes have gone down 89 percent! It's the biggest decrease in 50 years!"

But wait, there's more! "In Variety, it says the next big three movies scheduled for release have been shelved by the studio executives! It reports that they say that they may harm family values, and they're never going to release them!" Of course, if Variety is reporting that, it means the movie blogs already reported it two weeks ago. But still, big news!

I know what you're thinking. Isn't Sheri supposed to be dying of sudden-onset late-stage untreatable leukemia? Could she maybe get on with that? Yes, but hold your horses. She and her dad and the pastor think of yet another way to use her unprecedented magic powers: put her on television! (Sometimes she can convert people just by talking, without touching them.) Now, if the idea of mass conversion that overrides people's free will makes you uncomfortable, this might start to seem creepy, like the mind-control stuff in "Halloween III: Season of the Witch." She's got to be stopped before she converts the entire world!!

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The devil tries to stop her by possessing people's bodies and shape-shifting and otherwise deceiving her, but it's no use. "You're the dark prince of this world, and I can see your end!" Sheri declares, hilariously. She converts millions, then falls over dead on Christmas morning, her second collapse as unconvincing as the first. The message, I guess, is that while you should probably become a Christian, don't worry if you don't get around to it. Someone will come along and do it for you.