Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

After missing ‘Stomp the Yard’ when it was released theatrically some months ago, I rather enjoyed the internet firestorm between people who called this the ‘Greatest Movie Ever’ and those who alternatively labeled it the ‘Worst Movie Ever’ and a blatant rip off of ‘You Got Served’.  Now just the thought of a movie ripping off ‘You Got Served’ is enough to make me run and stick my head in the sand, but after actually seeing ‘Stomp The Yard’ it is of course neither the ‘Worst Movie Ever’ or the ‘Greatest Movie Ever’ and while it’s not a rip-off of ‘You Got Served’ (thank the Lord), Charles Stone III and the cast and crew of ‘Drumline’ might have a case to recoup some of the profits that this film may have made, if they so chose.

Columbus Short is high flying street dancer DJ who wants to prove the worth of his dance crew by going to what looks like the worst neighborhood in the worst city in America.  His little bro Duron (Chris Brown), who it seems was named after an AMD computer chip – I’m going assume he a little sister called Sempron and baby brother named Centrino - is the star of the dance crew and thinks they might want to tone it down because quite honestly their competition doesn’t look like they’re in any mood to get ‘served’.  DJ assures Duron that nothing bad is going to happen and to let it all hang out.  Well Duron does just that, and as he initially feared the crew they embarrassed didn’t enjoy getting served which ultimately ends with Duron catching a death bullet in an empty train yard.

Distraught, DJ’s mother ships him off to the ATL to live with his aunt Jackie (Valerie Pettiford) and his uncle Nate (Harry Lennix) who pulls some strings to get him into the mythical HBCU Truth University to hopefully get his life together.  Working for his uncle who landscapes the university, DJ observes a step show being put on by some

imaginary frat led by the frats head brother Sylvester (Brian J. White).  DJ also sees our pretty girl of the day in April (Megan Good) and interrupts the line of another imaginary frat in trying to get to the pretty girl, mightily pissing off the frats no.2 Grant (Darrin Dewitt Henson).  Enemy established, because to no one’s surpise the pretty girl is asshole Grant’s main squeeze.  Initially the big brother of the evil frat, Zeke (Laz Alonso), wants to recruit DJ for his frat crew after witnessing DJ’s mad dancing skills, but DJ disses them brutally and instead joins up with Sylvester’s frat.  What this all will eventually lead to is a national step off between the super powerful evil frat and the humble goofy nice frat, Boy will lose girl and we will see if boy gets girl back and of course our hero has to resolve the loss of his brother. 

Reasons why if you’ve seen ‘Drumline’ you have no need to watch ‘Stomp the Yard’, unless you just want to see young Black men step; Both films have a troubled urban youth with a bad attitude.  Both talented youths are shipped off mythical HBCU’s to get their lives together.  Both young men chase pretty girls who are way out of their league – but the pretty girls obviously come around.  Both youths have arch enemies, though ‘Stomp the Yard’ splits the arch enemy into two separate characters.  Both young men get kicked off the squad for behavior unbecoming.  (SPOILER) Both teams have a big national competition which ends in a tie in which will require the re-instatement of both of our discarded heroes in a dance / drum-off.  Actually, while watching the film with my wife, and after the big step competition I turned to her said ‘please don’t let this end in a tie’, but who was I kidding.

This is not to say that ‘Stomp the Yard’ is a terrible film, just a terribly derivative one which doesn’t have an original concept in its ninety minute body.  Director Sylvain White, who by the way is the son of former Boston Celtic Jojo White, which may explain why the director is so tall, certainly shoots the film with a high level of skill and competence as his music video pedigree shows through in the highly stylized, and slickly produced dance numbers which does infuse the film with a high level of energy.  But other than the fact that the film has high production values, which is practically a given in any Hollywood feature film, and the inspired dance sequences aside, there’s really no reason to watch this film.  Unless you actually attended a HBCU and want get all nostalgic on us, or you happen to be a woman who likes watching young men with washboard abs dance without their shirt on, or a dude who likes that kind of thing because we don’t discriminate against alternative lifestyle types here at the FCU.  ‘Drumline’ was actually a much better film, though ‘Stomp the Yard’ does manage to stomp all over ‘You Got Served’.  Faint praise perhaps, but praise nonetheless. 

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