Saturday, January 13, 2007

plezWorld Reviews "Stomp The Yard"

My wife and I just got in from viewing the movie "Stomp The Yard" with a sizable portion of South DeKalb County at the Stonecrest AMC 16 (the place was sold out). Cute movie. Neat stepping. Respectful of traditional Black Greek Letter Organizations (fraternities). Nice dancing, a lot of it was too recent for a forty-something like me to appreciate (krumping? clowning?).

Here's an excerpt of a review from
"When DJ (Columbus Short), a troubled youth from Los Angeles, moves to Atlanta to attend Truth University, he discovers "stepping," the age-old style of dance traditionally done in African-American Fraternities, where teams demonstrate complex moves and create rhythmic sounds by using their bodies. DJ's raw talent and hip-hop inspired moves quickly place him at the center of a fierce rivalry between two fraternities, the winner of which will be determined in front of a sold-out arena at the annual stepping championships. But before he can help his teammates, he must battle his own demons and learn the true meaning of brotherhood."
plez looks at the look. This movie was obviously directed by a music video director (Sylvain White), from the opening sequence to the finale, I felt like I was watching the extended-remix version of a music video. Lots of quick shots, inventive overhead shots, and the ubiquitous super slo-mo shot of some very intricate and creative dance moves. I was completely lost at the beginning because I had absolutely no context on the whole "dance/fight/street gang" opening sequence where - I hope I don't ruin it for anyone, but... - DJ's brother (played by music artist and teen heartthrob Chris Brown) gets a bullet to the dome! I'll be honest, that was the most shocking part of the movie.

plez looks at the plot. Basic Hollywood boilerplate: guy overcomes his circumstances, faces his demons, gets the girl, and wins the dance-music-stepping-singing-drumming-spelling-yougettheidea competition at the end of movie. Hey! That sounds a lot like "Drumline" meets "You Got Served" meets "School Daze." If you liked those movies, you'll like this one. If you never heard of those three movies, go see "The Pursuit of Happyness" again, because this movie ain't for you!

plez looks at the frats. I have to admit that I carry a lot bias with me: I am a member of a traditionally Black fraternity and when I was in college, I stepped on numerous occasions (I still have my very first red and white striped cane from my pledge days). It is obvious that the writers were members of Black fraternities as the rival fraternities were models on traditional Black fraternities... down to the step routines! I really enjoyed when the pledges were introduced to the yard, because I know two of the guys who played pledgees in the movie, they are blood brothers and were members of the fraternity chapter that I pledged at Georgia Tech (Yo! Wassup with the cameos Larry & Lamar?!?). The one problem with the fraternity members is that most of the guys are WAAAAY past their college days; some of these guys were 30-something! The main antagonist was played by Darrin "Dance Grooves" Henson who is pushing 35 years old... although he is a great dancer and choreographer, you will instantly recognize him and realize he is much too old for his role.

plez looks at the stepping. I never stepped like that... and if I was 20 years younger, I still don't think I could step like that! To the trained eye, it was obvious which fraternity the movie producers belong to: "their" fraternity won the competition and just about every step routine in the movie was a variation of "their" steps... and their fraternity's name begins with an "A" and ends with an "A." I'll leave it at that.

plez sez: Good music. Nice dancing. Innovative and creative step routines. At times, the costumes were a bit contrived, especially the "Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation" outfits that one step team wore in the competition at the end of the movie. The dialogue and plot was adequate to move the audience from the dance/fight to DJ going to college to his pledging a fraternity to the step competition. If you are familiar with stepping, then you will find the movie at least tolerable.

I give "Stomp the Yard" a GO SEE; the stepping is quite interesting and plezWorld knows 3 or 4 of the extras. Check it out!

January 14, 2007 - "Stomp the Yard" debuted with the top spot for MLK, Jr weekend! CNN reports that "the dance flick "Stomp the Yard" was a step ahead of the competition at the box office, debuting as the No. 1 weekend movie with $22 million."


Paula said...

From the trailers I could see the You Got Served feel. I'm glad to see a review from the black greek perspective. You can tell all the movie critics are white because the way they tackle the topic of stepping is pretty antiseptic. One of those "we don't really get it, but we hear it works this way." LOL

plez... said...

It's funny, because the main character (DJ) was one of the minor dancers in You Got Served.

And after seeing the movie, I was a bit dismayed by the way a number of the reviewers trashed the movie. It's not a BAD movie, it's just not going to get nominated for any Oscars. It is good light fun, takes a decent look at the Black Greeks without all the negativity, and stays away from the violent and overtly sexual stereotypes usually attributed to Blacks by Hollywood.