Must Hear Music
Reviews Archives
Bargain Basement
Music DVD
Send Us Mail
Contact Us

Drumline (PG-13)
20th Century Fox
Official Site
Director: Charles Stone III
Producers: Wendy Finerman, Timothy Bourne, Jody Gerson
Written by: Tina Gordon Chism, Shawn Schepps
Cast: Nick Cannon, Orlando Jones, Zoe Saldana, Leonard Roberts, GQ, Jason Weaver, Earl Poitier, J. Anthony Brown

Rating: out of 5

If you’re a drummer, see this movie. If you like drums even a little bit, see this movie. No, make that a musician. Or a human. See Drumline. Catch my drift?

It’s an engaging battle of brilliance versus tradition, old school versus new, and money versus art, set at fictional college Atlanta A&T. The university is steeped in marching band tradition, with particular focus on the drumline, “the pulse of the band.” In a land where “halftime is game time,” the pounding Panthers have recruited prodigal young drummer Devon Miles (Cannon). Talented but sassy, Miles quickly learns that talent does not get you to the front of the drumline, discipline does.

Very soon the battle lines are drawn. Even as a freshman, Devon sees himself as the savior of the program, and has no qualms about letting section leader Sean (Roberts) know that he’s gunning for his position as the head of the drumline, nor letting lead majorette Laila (Saldana) know he’s interested. Meanwhile, band director Dr. Lee (Jones), is trying to keep his program concentrated on great music, despite the trend toward playing watered-down pop hits. The alumni are pressuring A&T to follow the trends in order to win the contests—and the money. Dr. Lee is left with a few major decisions, all of which will affect not only his job but the entire program.

Going into this film, we didn’t expect much besides some cool drumline scenes. The movie did not disappoint. In fact, it could show even seasoned percussionists some new tricks, and will likely have them jumping from their seats in amazement. (Some people in the audience literally gave a standing ovation during the climactic scene.) The choreography becomes a character of its own, daring the crowd to react. The final 15 minutes alone are worth the price of admission.

The performances of both Nick Cannon, star and producer of his eponymous Nickelodeon TV series, and Orlando Jones, former 7-UP guy and “Mad TV” cast member, are commendable despite a fairly formulaic plot. A nod to the two female screenwriters, one of whom interned at “The Cosby Show,” (you win some) and the other of whom wrote Pauley Shore’s Son-In-Law (you lose some). Regardless, the script is nothing short of fantastic. Each character earns our compassion; it just seems there’s a purpose to each action taken. Innovative! The militant practices, the frat-style hazing, and the indulgent rivalry among drummers only increases the reality of what these men and women deal with. After all, they are THE event at the “football” game. (Hey, no pressure.)

By the way director Stone did the popular Budweiser wazzzzup ad campaign, and the executive music producer who scored on the score (sorry, couldn’t help it) is Dallas Austin, a well-known pop/hip-hop producer with a groovy name to boot.

All things considered, we plan to see this movie again when it opens on Friday the 13th. In the same way Mr. Holland’s Opus made you want to pick up a clarinet and play some Mozart, Drumline begs the question, “Can I go back to college and join the band?”

As Dr. Lee would say, “Let’s get CRUNK.”

—Michelle Fajkus and Eric Thorlin


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

Mike Doughty

none now

South By Southwest 2014
David DeVoe

South By Southwest 2013
David DeVoe

Red Hook Music Festival
George Dow

SXSW 2012
David DeVoe

Our Favorite Records 2011
Hybrid Staff

Rachel Fredrickson

Rachel Fredrickson

Warped Tour 2011
Rachel Fredrickson

Eddie Spaghetti
Melissa Skrbic-Huss

Murder By Death
Mike DeLeo

Mike Doughty
Boulder, CO

Denver, CO

Imagine Dragons
Denver, CO

Cambridge, MA

Young Magic
Denver, CO

Warped Tour 2012
Denver, CO

Denver, CO

Mike Doughty
Denver, CO

Kansas City, MO

Other Lives
Lawrence, KS

Los Campesinos
Boston, MA

The Civil Wars
Lawrence, KS

Ha Ha Tonka
Lawrence, KS

Lawrence, KS

hybridmagazine.com is updated daily except when it isn't.
New film reviews are posted every week like faulty clockwork.
Wanna write for hybrid? Send us an e-mail.
© 1996-2009 [noun] digital media. All rights reserved worldwide. All content on hybridmagazine.com and levelheadedmusic.com is the intellectual property of Hybrid Magazine and its respective creators. No part of hybridmagazine.com or levelheadedmusic.com may be reproduced in any format without expressed written permission. For complete masthead and physical mailing address, Click Here.