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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



Pink Floyd

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