A young man gets an unexpected shot on his favorite show in this nostalgic trip to the 1960s era dance craze that wowed the 1980s.
Philadelphia had a local hit show with a dance show hosted by Perry Parker. One of the biggest fans of the show is suburbanite Del Greene, who dances along to the hits, much to the chagrin of his friends, who see the idea as ridiculous. However, Del decrees that he is planning to go to the studio in hopes of landing a spot on the show. When he arrives, he is shocked to learn that Dugan, one of the most popular dancers on the show has been banned due to his consistent reckless behavior. When Dugan’s girlfriend and partner Vickie needs a new dance partner, Del steps in.
At first, Del is shocked and surprised. However, after an initiation by fellow dancers Popeye and Ivy, Del has proven themselves and earns their respect. With Perry’s support, Del and Vickie soon become the new “it” couple on the show. This leads to dissention between Del and his hometown friends. Nevertheless, Del and Vickie have such natural chemistry on the show that it slowly transfers to real life. However, a chance encounter with Dugan leads to a shocking discovery that Del finds himself at a crossroads. Meanwhile, Perry slowly begins to learn his show is at risk of being cancelled. Will Del and Perry be able to overcome their obstacles and find themselves at a place of peace in a crazy world?
The 1987 hit film Dirty Dancing led to something that temporarily paved the way for a few films in the cinematic world: the 1960s dance craze translating to 1980s film. Hairspray, Purple People Eater, and Shag: The Movie are prime examples of this era of dance with its setting and films made during the 1980s. This film is another example, an underrated one that can be said to be a gender reversal of Hairspray but without the racial tensions and focuses more on a rivalry between city folks and suburbanites with our protagonist Del’s attempt to be in the titular “in-crowd”.
What helps in the film is that our protagonist has a connection to both the era and dancing. Donovan Leitch, the son of 1960s singing icon Donovan and is a trained dancer, is perfectly cast as the young Del. When we are introduced to him, he starts with a bang, lip-synching and dancing to “Do You Love Me?” by the Contours. As we Del’s evolution from whipped suburbanite to being a part of the “in-crowd” when he proves himself appearing on the hit local dance show. When he gets somewhat initiated during the show, his moves appease Perry to where he makes him a major fixture as the partner of Vickie, played by Jennifer Runyon while she remains loyal to her boyfriend Dugan, played by Scott Plank.
If there is a character that can said to be annoying almost in its entirety, it’s Wendy Gazelle’s Gail, who does everything she can to make Del well, let’s face it, be submissive to her. She constantly tells him what he needs to do and what he is going to do. Maybe it’s because she harbors feelings for him that when Vickie comes in the picture, feels threatened. She sees her fellow suburbanites as more intelligent than the dancers as see in a pivotal dinner scene that becomes the catalyst for a decision set to change Del in the third act. However, Gail does find some sense of redemption in the final five minutes of the film, and it will have to be seen to believe it.
Joe Pantoliano is great to watch as Perry Parker. He brings that “Joey Pants” charm to the role, a likable dance show host who behind the scenes not only deals with the show possibly being cancelled, but some of his subordinates seem to be in the vein of mobsters. Notably his page, who acts more like a tough guy from Jersey than your stereotypical page. Nevertheless, he sees Del and Vickie as possible savior of the show and yes, he may have a little bit of that shadiness off the set, but he seems like a likable character who loves his job.
The In-Crowd is another fun time trip to the 1960s with the dance craze as a gender reversal of Hairspray only replace racism with city folks vs. suburbanites. The dance scenes are a delight and both Donovan Leitch and “Joey Pants” help drive the film.
WFG RATING: B+
Orion Pictures presents a Force Ten production. Director: Mark Rosenthal. Producers: Lawrence Konner and Keith Rubenstein. Writers: Mark Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner. Cinematography: Anthony Richmond. Editing: Jeffrey Wolf.
Cast: Donovan Leitch, Joe Pantoliano, Jennifer Runyon, Scott Plank, Bruce Kirby, Wendy Gazelle, Sean Gregory Sullivan, Charlotte D’Amboise, Page Hannah, Mark Soper.