Action / Comedy / Drama / Music / Romance
Action / Comedy / Drama / Music / Romance
A fish-out-of-water comedy about a talented street drummer from Harlem who enrolls in a Southern university, expecting to lead its marching band's drumline to victory. He initially flounders in his new world, before realizing that it takes more than talent to reach the top.
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October 22, 2012 at 01:26 PM
No Drumline Here.
Drumline (2002): Dir: Charles Stone / Cast: Nick Cannon, Orlando Jones, Zoe Saldana, Leonard Roberts, J. Anthony Brown: Here is a drama that drums a beat that we've all heard countless times. It regards perseverance and maintaining your goals. It stars Nick Cannon who wins a scholarship to attend a Southern university where he hopes to extend his ability to play the drums on a marching band drumline. His attitude comes into conflict with others, particularly the conductor. The plot is full of clichés but director Charles Stone handles the material with skill with the marching and performing that are wondrous in itself. Unfortunately the fine cast is subdued in stereotypes. Cannon bringing out the rebellious nature of a gifted drummer but the problem is that everything has been laid out before. Orlando Jones is also playing predictable material as a conductor. He will yell at Cannon who will in turn rebel before they come to respect each other in that conclusion we've long arrived at before they have. Zoe Saldana is a disappointment as Cannon's love interest because that is about the height of her role. Other supporting roles are cardboard as well, and are about as festive as hearing those drums beat in your ears for hours. Theme regards expressing self through talents but unfortunately the screenwriter was expressing clichés and stereotypes right down to the final drumline. Score: 3 / 10
Good formulaic story
Devon Miles (Nick Cannon) is a brash young drummer with a scholarship to Atlanta A&T. He was raised by a single mom in Harlem. Dr. Lee (Orlando Jones) runs the program but he's very traditional under pressure to update his style to compete against a rival. Devon flirts with dancer Laila (Zoe Saldana) immediately. Leader of the drumline Sean Taylor (Leonard Roberts) is challenged by Devon's rebellious nature and his superior playing. It all culminates in a big BET competition.
This is a pretty simple coming-of-age story against the backdrop an interesting African American subculture. Nick Cannon is great as the brash young buck and I didn't even realize that the love interest was played by Zoe Saldana until I watched it again recently. This follows a very traditional formula and delivers a very competent movie.
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Up From Drumming
African American males often use Music as part of a wonderful learning style and this film is a hilarious and inspiring exposition of this fact. Nick Cannon is on the beat as Devon Miles, a musical prodigy with a gift for rhythm and percussion. Orlando Jones is a revelation as Dr. Lee, a different kind of black hero who uses his mind and his teaching skill to win adventures in learning rather than relying on guns and fists. He easily and naturally reflects the kind of personality that populates many urban environments working tirelessly to raise the tone of the entire community.
I also enjoyed the conflict and tension between Cannon's Devon Miles and Leonard Roberts' (of 'Heroes' fame) Sean Taylor, head of the Drum Section at the Southern University Miles has won a scholarship to attend. Once again, as in the movie 'Accepted' the creative nonconformist butts heads with the system and its representatives and learns the value of humility in cultivating natural talent. Something like 'The Natural' with drums, but minus the lightning and the thunder if you discount the emotional fireworks between the lead characters themselves.
That's it in a nutshell. The final 'Drum Off' between the two competing Universities at the end of the film captured more about the Black Aesthetic than anything I have seen in a long time. I thought it was a beautiful set piece and kudos to Director Charles Stone III and his Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut. The beautiful thing about this scene was that despite it sensationalistic aspects nobody was maimed or killed to accomplish the ultimate dramatic effect. You can feel the intense passion of the African American to rise above that factor of their legacy that involves oppression and exploitation, but here that angst is discharged creatively rather than destructively.
Zoe Saldana (of 'Star Trek' fame) as Laila, the romantic interest of Devon, demonstrates through their relationship the steps our main character must take to socialize his tremendous talent for the greatest benefit to all. J. Anthony Brown makes a worthy adversary as Mr. Wade to Band Leader Dr. Lee before and during the BET Competitions for best University Band in America. But what I really liked was how the story revealed the African American Community seizing Learning and Music as an appropriate choice of weapons for attaining greater freedom with an in-your-face style and panache.