A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Drumline

February 5, 2011

Drumline

Would you believe I bought this movie twice before I even saw it? Amanda wanted me to add this to our collection with several other movies intended to even out the distribution of our movies – which rather heavily favor the action and sci-fi genres. So I ordered it from Amazon, but when it arrived I was horrified to discover that I had inadvertently purchased the “fullscreen” version. Which naturally meant that I had to go and buy it again. Because I’ll be damned if I sully any movie by watching the bastardised version if I have any possible option. I’m glad that I did too, because this is a fun, well put together movie, and it would be a crime to mess with its composition.

At its heart this is a sports movie. It’s the story of an unbelievably talented individual who is a little too full of himself and needs to learn to care about his team before he can truly achieve victory. We’ve seen it before, most recently when we reviewed Stick It. It’s full of familiar archetypes like the wise and draconian seeming coach who puts the well being of his team ahead of the outcome of the competition. The domineering team owner who will make sacrifices for a win. The smarmy rival coach who cares more about winning than anything else. The stern older team mate who acts as a reluctant mentor and eventually overcomes a clash of wills with our hero so that they become fast friends. It feels like a blend of Bull Durham, The Natural, Stick It, Major League and a hundred other sports movies besides. As such it was familiar and comforting to watch. It doesn’t hold any big surprises but it’s fun to see the plot unfold and there really is a lot of great precision marching band footage to watch as well.

Nick Cannon stars as our hero Devon Miles. Miles is the most talented snare drum player in the history of time itself (it would seem) with the power to enliven a high-school band performance with just a little flare from his sticks. He’s got a full scholarship to go to college and join in the extremely competitive world of scholastic marching bands. At college he quickly proves that he is suave and smooth with the ladies, a master of the drums and able to memorise any cadence demonstrated for him in an instant, and so completely full of himself that he is destined for trouble. The band leader is Dr. Lee, a man who cares deeply about the music and is dismayed that modern razzmatazz has taken the place of precision and well played tunes. He’d rather his band were playing Earth Wind and Fire or Flight of the Bumblebee than Snoop Dog. As such he’s getting a reputation for being out of touch and unable to reach the youth of today – and he’s under extraordinary pressure from the school dean to restore the band to its former glory and win the upcoming marching band championships.

The motto of the band is “One band – one sound” which doesn’t work too well with Miles’ rebellious attitude. Naturally he buts heads with Sean Taylor, the head of the drums corps. Sean thinks that Devon is a bad influence, even if he IS talented. So will Devon learn to work with the team instead of grandstanding? Will Dr. Lee find a way to reach the kids of today with his classic music tastes? Will Devon win the affection of the cute cheerleader? Will their team be triumphant in the end? Of course!

Two things make this film a success in my mind. One is the great cast they brought together here. Nick Cannon as Devon is all charm, even when he’s at his most egotistical. He has an irascible grin that bodes all kinds of mischief, and a chip on his shoulder the size of all of Texas. As Dr. Lee Orlando Jones is the soul (and funk) of the movie. He does a great job showing us how much his character cares about the music and about these kids, and how desperate he is to reach them. Sean Taylor is portrayed by Leonard Roberts, who does a great job being both antagonist and protagonist as he tries first to break Devon down so that he can build him back up stronger than before. Rounding out the cast is the ever classy Zoe Saldana as Lalia – the cheerleader love interest. Her side plot is probably the least suspenseful part of the movie since Devon seems to charm her from their very first meeting, so you never get a sense that she’s some kind of out-of-his-league and unattainable ideal who eventually falls for him (which is more what I would expect to see.) The two of them have great chemistry though, and it’s fun to see Devon so effortlessly sweeping her off her feet in a sort of fantasy wish fulfilment way. Who wouldn’t want to have such a natural facility with intimidatingly attractive people?

The other highlight of this movie is the actual performances. I’m not an aficionado of marching band, but the way that director Charles Stone III films them makes them exciting, intense and fun to watch. He also doesn’t rely on the same techniques I’ve seen in such recent sports movies as Stick It and Bring It On where the routines are compressed into quick montages – the marching band routines in this film may be short, but they all feel like complete songs. It’s thrilling music with fancy footwork and complex choreography. There are quite a number of performances throughout the film, and they never get tired or old – which makes this movie just a lot of fun to watch.

Indeed even after watching the movie I wasn’t tired of marching bands. I had to look around Youtube and see what’s available to watch. It should be no surprise to anybody that my favorite of the ones I watched is video game related. Tonight for MST3K I will have to watch the short about Mr. B Natural – who wants to recruit people into high school band because he/she is a shill for Conn Ltd. (a manufacturer of band instruments apparently.)

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February 5, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. She.

    Comment by Doc Wheat | February 6, 2011 | Reply


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