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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.38%
Worth A Look: 7.69%
Pretty Bad: 23.08%
Total Crap: 3.85%

3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Stomp the Yard
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by brianorndorf

"Good messages smothered by awful direction"
3 stars

"Stomp the Yard" almost gets it. With a faint amount of attention given to the power of education and determination, along with collegiate brotherhood, it's an intermittently entertaining film that could've been something great. What's keeping the picture down is the abysmal direction and piledriving melodrama.

Any film that tries to sell the idea that there is a hardcore dance underground out there in the world just makes me giggle. We have drugs, gangs, guns, and rock n’ roll, but dancing is a form of street toughness? What’s next, to-the-death tickle matches?

DJ (choreographer Columbus Short) is still reeling over the murder of his brother in a dance battle between two gangs that ended in tragedy. Sent from L.A. to Georgia, DJ is given a second chance by his Uncle (Harry Lennix) to work off his debt to society and attend Truth University, an elite African-American college. Once there, DJ learns about the world of “Stepping,” a special traditional dance that the fraternities and sororities use to battle for campus supremacy.

“Stomp the Yard” will surely be compared to “You Got Served,” and it has every right to be. It’s hard to shake the cash-in feeling coating the film: another PG-13 story of dance world drama starring uberhip African-American actors who all shop at the “’lil thug’’ department at Nordstrom, and let the editing take care of most of the dance requirements.

However, “Served” wasn’t half-bad due to the sheer energy of the piece. “Yard” shares the same vibe, but don’t let Sylvain White’s suffocating direction discourage you. A music video vet with a wealth of deadly visual touches, White doesn’t know a thing about putting together a moment of dramatic or artistic authenticity. He’s all gloss and needless camera movement, forgetting that the Stepping traditions entranced audiences because they were acts of unique movement and choreography, not artificial flashdance. White prefers big screen handheld camerawork spasms and editing chaos, rap-video style, absent the Cristal and booty girls.

It’ll take every once of willpower to not run out of the theater screaming during the opening underground dance battle, which White makes look like David LaChapelle’s id exploded in an abandoned snuff film set, complete with one onlooker dressed up in a furry bunny suit. Why? Because White can.

The rest of the picture fares much better, including some nice performances from the cast, and a strong evocation of collegiate history and fraternal commitment. When it can concentrate on the bigger picture, “Stomp” desires to be a vessel of inspiration to young African-American audiences, none-too-subtly pushing the theme of education when it can find the time to. It’s an unusually positive film with some good messages buried deep into the mix. And I mean deep.

All the Martin Luther King Jr. quotes and Rosa Parks pictures can’t stop “Stomp” from becoming an unbearable creature of melodrama in the final 30 minutes. It just isn’t enough to have DJ battling his fellow dancers, he must engage in a “Romeo and Juliet” romance, while fending off the prejudices of the school board. For a film about dance, this is too much to deal with. You can sense in White’s increasingly skittish direction that he can’t process any of this.

“Stomp” gets sloppy as it freefalls to a conclusion. It almost comes as a relief when the film steps away from absurd melodrama and heads back to the dancing. Again softening the brain with KISS-style stage fireworks and Hype Williams-influenced cinematography, “Stomp” returns to the doofy, pre-teen-pleasing dance movie it was always intended to be.

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originally posted: 01/14/07 17:49:02
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User Comments

4/26/08 Lindsay It's a pretty cool movie 5 stars
8/20/07 Kelo Fabolous Stuff the plot!! It was all about the HONEYZZ!! This movie has the finest guys in it!! 5 stars
6/15/07 William Goss Dance sequences are impressive, but can barely make up for generic story. 3 stars
5/21/07 saleem hardwick good family movie and entertaining 4 stars
3/22/07 Nillie it is an aweosome movie! 5 stars
2/07/07 joslyn arnold I love this movie every one in fine in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/21/07 Todd Who the hell greenlights this shit? 1 stars
1/16/07 Sandy great dancing, a movie filled with energy and positive messages 4 stars
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  12-Jan-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 15-May-2007

  16-Mar-2007 (12)
  DVD: 23-Jul-2007


Directed by
  Sylvain White

Written by
  Robert Adetuyi

  Brian J. White
  Columbus Short
  Meagan Good

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