Stomp the Yard
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -2

Columbus Short, Meagan Good, Darrin Henson, Courtney B. Vance. Drama/performing arts. Written by Robert Adetuyi. Directed by Sylvain White.

FILM SYNOPSIS: 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. DJs 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.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Before the movie began, the screening audience was subjected to several real-life Stepping exhibitions. I say subjected, because while we all enjoyed the first group, the following four groups revealed the fact that theres really not that much to this rather frivolous performing art. I appreciated the precision, but kept thinking, this has to take a lot of time to get right time that could be spent doing something of a higher calling. I suppose the same could be said for cheerleading, except cheering was designed to back a team and stir the teams supporters. Stepping, with its accompanying hoops and hollers, seems more like a fad, a self-expression that cant sustain audience support. (I admit, I could be wrong. I thought hip hop would last for only a season.) By the time the film began, I had already seen all the stepping I cared to. That said, this variation on the hand bone has morphed from centuries-old African culture. Indeed, the screening audience was made up mostly of young African-Americans who seemed to appreciate the inventiveness of performance art more so than I. They enjoyed the movie and I enjoyed them. They were enthusiastic about the film. Being with people who enjoy a film always helps with a writers perspective.

However, besides its too many slap-and-holler routines, the films cookie-cutter format offers nothing new: bad boy faces obstacles before finding himself and getting the good girl. Theres the prerequisite antagonist who happens to be dating the girl our hero longs for. Her dad also objects to his dating her and, being the college dean, he holds the young mans future in his hands. And there are a couple of misunderstandings and challenges before the couple get to walk off into the sunset. Make that step off into the sunset.

Okay, so theres nothing fresh about the film other than a new form of dance/athletics. There are, however, several positive messages dealing with how to treat a woman, having self-respect, working to uplift the team, not just yourself, and the importance of getting an education. Whats more, while these young people are athletic, they are also pretty good actors. They draw you into the story and give more depth than the overly familiar scenario deserves.

My only real reservation concerning this film is that it seems to take place in an alternate world, one populated only by African Americans. True, it takes place at a black university, but the only scene featuring whites is in a snooty restaurant, with whites as peripheral extras. Perhaps thats payback for all the times Blacks have suffered the same lack of notice on TV and in movies. But is that where were still at? Here, theres a complete ignoring of Caucasian society. Pictures on dorm rooms feature only blacks, the campus history museum features only blacks, and the big Stepping national playoff only features blacks and only black spectators. No other race fares better. This is a film about black culture and it seems to have no room for any other perspective. Its sadly ironic, when you consider how African-Americans have struggled to make America aware of their significance, yet these filmmakers ignore the contributions or even the presence of others. Some day, we will realize that God made us all and that each race complements the others.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: There are a few comical sexual comments and the leads roommate casually shows his large package of condoms.
Obscene Language: Generally, the film avoids offensive language, but there are two uses of the s-word and two uses of the N-word. Five or so minor expletives (damns and hells) are sprinkled throughout.
Profanity: I caught no misuse of Gods name. In fact, before one group does its routine at championships, they are heard saying the Lords prayer.
Violence: A fight leads to a gunshot, leaving the leads brother dead. Another fight is squelched and the antagonists decide to settle their argument by trying to out-perform their opponents. Blood: Some blood is seen as a gunshot victim lay dying.
Sexual Intercourse: The camera didnt meet a booty it didnt enjoy. There is some sensuality as young women are frequently seen in provocative clothing or athletic males going shirtless. It is implied a couple of times that the main couple sleep together.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: There are several sexual wisecracks, but not be the lead, who shows women respect.
Drug Abuse: Underage college students are seen drinking beer in a couple of scenes.
Other: None
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Teens and Adults

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