1 item from 2002
9 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »
Back in the day, before Dallas Austin became a red-hot record producer, with Madonna, TLC, Pink and Brandy among his many clients, he got an early taste of the music business as a high school band drummer in his hometown of Atlanta.
That experience provides the inspiration for "Drumline", a thoroughly enjoyable portrait of the highly precise preparation that goes into the making of a competitive show marching band.
It's formula all the way. Basically, if you've seen "Remember the Titans", "Save the Last Dance" and "Fame", you get the picture. But it's done with such spirit and care -- from the writing to the casting to the direction -- that it's pretty difficult to resist the film's freshly choreographed charm.
Based on audience response at a preview screening, Fox should be on sleeper alert. Not only will "Drumline" have no trouble doing "Barbershop"-style word-of-mouth business, but it could also demonstrate some nice crossover potential beyond its targeted young urban demo.
Nick Cannon, star of his eponymous Nickelodeon series, makes an assured feature debut as Devon Miles, a self-confident young hip-hop drummer from Harlem who has won a full music scholarship to Atlanta A&T University.
Talented but undisciplined, Devon's in for a rude awakening from Day One as he discovers his new school is run like band boot camp, presided over by the exacting, old-school Dr. Lee (Orlando Jones).
Devon also manages to engage in a divisive game of one-upmanship with the resentful Sean Taylor (Leonard Roberts), a senior class band member who ultimately outs Devon as being musically illiterate.
Will Devon get his act together in time to earn a spot on the drumline and make it to the Big Southern Classic? Will he learn to check his ego and get in sync with Dr. Lee's "One band, one sound" credo?
While the answers are obvious, the talent on both sides of the camera infuse this patented underdog tale with an infectious energy.
Director Charles Stone III ("Paid in Full") keeps everything moving briskly and propulsively, and the entire cast -- which also includes Zoe Saldana as Devon's principled girlfriend and comedian J. Anthony Brown as a colorful rival bandleader -- are in perfect character pitch.
As for the music, those who'd cringe at the prospect of marching band renditions of Jackson 5 and Earth, Wind & Fire songs will be in for a pleasant surprise, thanks to "Drumline"'s rhythmic precision and imaginative choreography.
Who knows? "Drumline" might even end up doing for marching band enrollment what "Top Gun" did for Navy recruitment.
20th Century Fox
Fox 2000 Pictures presents a Wendy Finerman production
Credits: Director: Charles Stone III; Screenwriters: Tina Gordon Chism and Shawn Schepps; Story: Shawn Schepps; Producers: Wendy Finerman, Timothy M. Bourne, Jody Gerson; Executive producers: Dallas Austin, Greg Mooradian; Director of photography: Shane Hurlbut; Production designer: Charles C. Bennett; Editors: Bill Pankow, Patricia Bowers; Costume designer: Salvador Perez; Music: John Powell; Executive music producer: Dallas Austin; Casting: Aleta Chappelle. Cast: Devon: Nick Cannon; Laila: Zoe Saldana; Dr. Lee: Orlando Jones; Sean: Leonard Roberts; Jayson: GQ; Ernest: Jason Weaver; Charles: Earl C. Poitier; Mr. Wade: J. Anthony Brown.
MPAA Rating PG-13, Running time 118 minutes
1 item from 2002
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