DRUMLINE rolls out a hybrid of dramedy, coming-of-age-while-black flick, college movie and feel-good sports picture, succeeding better in some aspects than others. The script by Tina Gordon Chism and Shawn Schepps follows a predictable tread, well-directed by Charles Stone III, turning out a flash-mob audience pleaser in 2002. Irony being “dope tea”, its then-current music vibe is now as carbon-dated as the selections the kids are complasion over in the story. From the bemused vantage point of a mixed-response coffin dodger, it’s all “part of life’s rich pageant”…or whateverTF. Word.
Attitude-infused New York high school grad ‘Devon Miles’ (‘tude-consumed Nick Cannon, 21) is accepted into an Atlanta university as part of its revered marching band. A self-taught drum virtuoso, he’s got sticks talent up the snare but has a lot to learn otherwise: discipline, how to court a hot ‘honey’ without insulting her, and, uh, how to read music. Cannon’s thug-Jr. posturing is not as charming as he must think, and the only-in-a-script romance with beautiful and bright upperclassman dancer ‘Laila’ (Zoe Saldana) is a clunker. Even though her role is weakly written, the elegant Saldana’s fully winning, and others in the supporting cast are strong, especially Orlando Jones, superb as ‘Dr. Lee’, the perpetually stressed head of the marching band.
What makes the movie move is inherent in the title; truly awesome displays of intricately-choregraphed mass action on the football fields when the band does its thing against a variety of impressive competitors. If you like crazy percussion, precision brass and lissome cheerleaders made out of elastic energy, you’ll accept the cliché’s and get down with it. Those guys with the cymbals are from another planet (and 23-year-old Zoe is Trek-bound bound for Pandora).
Produced for $20,000,000, grossing $57,588,000. With Leonard Roberts, Jason Weaver, J. Anthony Brown, Afemo Omilami and GQ. 118 minutes.