Drumline (2002) Poster


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Open up your mind and enjoy the movie for what it is!
dcd-516 December 2002
Drumline is a great movie -- but you have to see it for what it is ... not what your preconceived notions lead you to believe it might be.

This movie is all about exposing people to the world of Black College marching bands. You couldn't have a movie that was 2 hours of nothing but band performances so you HAD to wrap a formulaic story around it. "Boy meets girl/boy loses girl/boy gets girl back and learns the value of teamwork in time for the big showdown" is a formula that has worked for years -- and it works here!

Another poster remarked that the band camp scenes were unrealistic because they were too "militaristic" ... he didn't believe that (among other things) that the students would be made to run around holding their drums and so forth. Well, believe it!

I marched in one of these bands (Southern University in Louisiana) 20 years ago and back then, band camp was FAR MORE INTENSE than anything you see on the screen in this movie. YES, it is that competitive. YES, it is that grueling. YES, it is that disciplined. Black College marching band is serious business and this film gives you only a small sample of what it takes to "make the band."

The actual band performances are AWESOME and will definitely be an eye-opener to anyone who has never seen this type of thing before. More importantly, there is no sex, violence, drug use, and very little bad language (just the requisite "d*mns" and "h@lls" - nothing any more intense than prime-time television.) Equally important, the movie features strong male figures who resolve differences without resorting to pathological violence.

One last point -- the movie grossed 13+ million dollars in its opening weekend. And this was against Star Trek (18.7 M) and the Jennifer Lopez (19 M) movie. Although it finished in third place, it was shown in about 1,000 fewer theaters than those two. It had (by far) the highest "revenue per theater" for the weekend!

Do yourself a favor -- open your mind and see this movie -- you and your family will enjoy it!
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Great movie
Kazou_Kuriyama21 April 2003
Former drumline member here. Well damn, I guess I'll be the first drummer to say I liked the movie a lot. I swear, half of these reviews I'm reading are annoying - people bashing it because it's an all black movie, people bashing it because the band has dancers instead of a color guard, people calling the drumming rudimentary because they played in a drumline that did better blah blah blah.

What do you guys want, a documentary on marching band? If I was to make a Hollywood movie about the drumline I would have done the same exact things with the drum sequences - put in a gang of stick tricks and showmanship that would translate well to the screen. Nobody wants to watch flam taps for 90 minutes.

That being said, the last drum battle is one of my favorite things to watch. I love when the bass drum cadence comes in, the basses march in a circle, the quads toss each other their sticks between bars, and the snares have an orgy of backsticking and other stick tricks on a level you rarely see performed in real life. And the movie is only cliche as far as its kid w/ bad attitude needs to put his pride away plot goes. I don't watch Nickelodeon so I haven't seen one of those types of movies since I was... hmmm since I was 5. Far as what isn't cliche about it, there's a lot to like. One of the best things is that it immerses itself in Afro-American culture w/out any cliches at all - just life as it is down south at an all-black university. No guns, drugs, none of that stuff that you'd expect from a character who walks and talks like Nick Cannon's character does. I also liked the way they handled the white character in the band. The dialogue where they ask him why he went to the all-black college. His first reply is a wink at the audience, which would expect Hollywood to trivialize race relations like that. Then he goes, nah for real though, and gives a sincere answer that makes sense.
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Good, Clean Fun
Doghouse-610 January 2004
I'm not one of those people who moans and groans that "movies today are so full of trashy language" (or sex or violence or whatever), and that there's not enough "wholesome" (that word gives me a pain) entertainment for the family. For all those who do (and even those who don't), here's an energetic film that manages to entertain while eschewing content that could conceivably offend anyone (unless they find even the tiniest amount of innocuous, lightweight hip-hop too much to take).

The thematic ground here - young hotshot learns to sacrifice for the good of the team; underdogs strive for triumph - has been covered countless times before, so DRUMLINE wisely boils the plot down to its barest elements, for the most part sidestepping the obligatory contrived obstacles and setbacks, and plays to its strength: the music.

This is a story about college marching bands, focusing in particular on the members of the percussion section, and a good 50% - if not more - of the film concentrates on the lively and elaborate performances of the bands, which are complimented by equally lively cinematography and editing.

No, it's not deep and, yes, it's old fashioned. In, fact, it doesn't take a lot of imagination to see Mickey and Judy in the roles of Devon and Laila (though probably with different names!). I mean, these are the cleanest livin' kids you'll see in any recent picture! But it's solid and it all works. Oh, and don't be scared off by the idea of so much college marching band music. Not being a football fan, my exposure to such things is limited to the Rose Parade, and I don't have a clue as to what state-of-the-art is for halftime entertainment these days, but, for what it's worth, this is the best college marching band stuff I've ever seen, and I wasn't bored for a minute.
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A pleasant surprise!
johnharrison-122 January 2005
I'm not a musician and know little about marching bands. However, this movie captivated my attention. The athleticism of these musical marchers was something I had never thought about until watching this excellent movie. The music is wonderful and the drumline competition puts the dueling banjos of yesterday to shame. The story line delivers a good message of how raw talent can be molded into disciplined success. The concept of teamwork and individual goals are blended into a believable and inspiring movie. I found the acting to be very good and will look for the cast in future movies. Nick Cannon and Orlando Jones never leave any doubt about the characters they are playing.
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Could have been a lot better
sroyjones17 September 2007
The "talented young smart-ass goes to college and learns there's more to life than being skillful or clever" theme is an old one and it's been done better many times in the past. Robert Young learned about teamwork in "Navy Blue and Gold." More recently Rob Lowe learned the lesson in "Oxford Blues." The difference between Drumline and these and other older films on the same theme is that the lead characters evoked more sympathy. Nick Cannon's Devon Miles character is a self-centered, posturing, swaggering jackass who evokes immediate dislike and though you see him grow up a little in the course of the film, you never really learn to like or respect him.

Drumline also suffers from an identity crisis of its own. You're never really sure what sort of story it wants to tell. Is is a "coming of age" story, a drama, a comedy, a romance? It tries to be all of these at once and never seals the deal on any of them.

Drumline could have told a good story about a New York kid learning that there's more than one way to be black in this world. There are a couple of hints of that in Devon's relationship with Laila. Her comment to Devon: "Southern sisters don't date...we have boyfriends," could have been an opening to a good subplot about differences in black culture between different parts of the US, but, as with so many other possible plots, the story touches it lightly, and then flits off to something else. An arrogant young freshman such as Devon would have had many lessons to learn while finding his way in this environment, but the film misses nearly every opportunity to show us the relationships between the characters in any depth, so the performances come off as predictable and mechanical.

All the same, I've seen Drumline several times and enjoyed it for what it does very well. The presentation of the music and and the work that goes into running a big university marching band are very good. I could have done with more of both. The all-too-brief glimpses of life at a black southern university are well done. Again, I could have done with more of that as well. Drumline also had moments of humor, and some visually engaging camera work, especially in the music scenes.

I like this movie. I just wish it had been better done.
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A fairly decent movie
Agent1011 June 2003
One of the few times where black youths aren't portrayed as hoods, this movie proved it moved to the beat of a different drum (yes I know, bad pun). Anyway, I was pretty surprised by how well made the film was, considering there were no well known actors in the film besides Orlando Jones. This movie isn't just for band kids, it encompasses a broad spectrum of life that is actually interesting to watch. Sure, some might have considered this movie corny, but the band sequences saved any misgivings this film might have had. Watch this movie for the heck of it, because you might actually be surprised.
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Nickelodeon didn't ruin Nick Cannon
penguin8057 December 2003
Drumline is a great movie for anybody to see. I especially like it because I am a "band nerd" but that's ok. I would like it anyway; it has it's funny parts, it's serious parts, and I am still wondering how they found so many awesome drummers, (and other musicians for that matter!)

Because of this movie, I now have some respect for Nick Cannon as an actor. I'm glad he finally starred in a great movie for all ages, and is no longer confined to piece of crap kids sketch comedy shows on Nickelodeon, [which, by the way, SUCKS as of late (i.e. My life as a teenage robot, slimetime, ginger)]

Overall, great movie, great job by Nick Cannon.
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A great slice of the pie
BA_Musician2 January 2005
Those who have been in precision marching bands (yes, that includes the music) know about the hard work and dedication that it takes to be the best or among the best. The message of the movie, as I see it, is about that dedication and sacrifice in order to achieve greatness. Being a movie, of course there are unrealistic aspects woven into the story. For example, Devon should have not have been permitted to rejoin the band until he could read music. Because he did, it shot a big hole in one of the main underlying moral principles of the band. Still, we're talking about a movie. I experienced great emotional appeal watching the hard work of the "team." Sure, if it was a complete story about a marching band, the movie would fall far short, but who would watch a 20-hour movie about a marching band? It certainly would have been more realistic to include the pranks and general fun that we all had to have in between all the hard work just to stay sane. The movie as presented may not be entertaining to anyone who has never worked hard toward a goal with a team, but for those who have, I'm sure they will see a piece of themselves and their experience in Drumline. It's easy to find criticism in virtually anything. If we accept the basic good message of Drumline and allow ourselves to be entertained by the music as presented, it will be a movie that will be watched and enjoyed repeatedly. For those who actually think there are race issues in the movie, pay more attention to the people in it and what they are trying to do with their work, and you won't see any color. With some luck, maybe one day, you'll know what it's like to be in a marching band.
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Audience of two
T Mobile2 February 2007
For those who have ever marched snare, the talent on display in this movie is truly amazing. Aficianados can appreciate the tight flams, rolls, high sticking...but beware, the constant tug of war between "the line" versus "showboating" is nothing' but Hollywood drama because every experienced snare drummer knows nothing is sweeter than when ten snares sound like one because it only takes one weak link to muddy the sound.

Did I pay attention to the rest of this movie? Well, no. So I can't honestly comment about anything else other than the drum line. But then again isn't this what the movie is about because that's what I'm all about!
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Learning the rhythm system
George Parker29 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
"Drumline" tells of an Afro-Am high school grad and hotshot drummer who goes to college and learns it takes more than fast sticks to make the grade. Just okay as a light drama, this flick deserves high marks for making some positive points about the importance of rudiments and teamwork to success and for its tribute to, what is on most campuses considered un-cool, marching bands. What the film lacks in story it makes up for in marching band pageantry, music, and, most of all, percussion. A must see for anyone into marching bands and a should see for young people who dine on a steady diet of MTV and other entertainment junk food. (B)
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mill171610 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
While the movie itself was interesting because of the love-interest and the competitiveness, it's not really that realistic if you want to think top bands. It gives you the impression that Cannon's band was "the best" possible in the country, most likely in the south. That may be, but I wish they would compete against even the U of M band, because this isn't like the high school band I was in, let alone the college band, which is more professional and military-styled than U of M's. To see their instruments drop low when they're marching, hearing poor tuning and the drumline not even being together? That's upsetting.

B for entertainment. E for music and impressive showing of marching band skills.
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reese77717 December 2002
If you are a person that actually can go to a movie and simply enjoy it for the fun and a new experience, then you will love Drumline. It's a great movie that will enlighten many Americans as to the type of "marching bands" that have been the highlight of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) football games for decades. Do not go to this movie and expect to see the standard kind of band that graces the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade every year. Be prepared to see and understand the concept of band according to America's HBCU's- I guarantee, if you haven't seen it before, it will blow your mind.
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Should've been called "Violaline" to indicate how boring it was.
ianrey17 April 2003
I'm a former band guy, and watched this movie knowing how cheesy and foumulaic it would be, but I assumed I would enjoy it the way my wife, a former cheerleader, enjoyed "Bring It On." Nope. There's nothing enjoyable about this movie. The story was cliche, the characters were stock, the direction was amateur, the situation was ludicrous, and the music and marching were a joke. I kind of thought they'd use, or at least model themselves after, real SWAC or MEAC bands and players, but the music sequences, which should have been equivalent to the game sequences in sports movies or the performance sequences in arts movies (e.g. Fame, Center Stage, Bring It On - kinda), were so low quality they were laughable. 20 High Schools in my state could have easily won that competition, and every drum corp except maybe the Troopers. There was some special attention given to, can you believe it, the drum line, but ultimately, the sequences were boring and monotonous, and the cadences rudimentary and annoying. Since the story was utterly predictable, let me rate the performances in this movie, using BOA scoring:

Music Performance Individual: 12/20 - The closeups were the best part, and Devon was good enough to be in my college percussion section - on cymbals. Music Performance Ensemble: 5/20 - One band, one awful sound. They couldn't even play a Bb scale in tune. Seriously. Visual Performance Individual: 5/20 - Hey, Devon? Tick, Tick, Tick... Visual Performance Ensemble: 3/20 - Straight lines are not that hard to maintain when you stand still for 5 minutes.. Maybe you guys should be introduced to a thing called "Marching". In a few years we'll move on to another thing called "Drill Design." Music GE: 15/40 - Dr. Lee, let me introduce you to a thing called a "Theme". There's nothing wrong with quick cheers and fanfares in the stands being based on hip-hop, but you may have noticed that the melodic lines of most contemporary hip-hop tunes are not exactly ever-changing. In The Stone was cutting edge about 20 years ago, but now every high school band plays it. Visual GE: 4/20. Atrocious dancing, flat footed marching, no concept to the shows at all. While we're doing Band 101, there's a new concept called "Color Guard" you may want to look into.

Total score: 44/100. OK, so maybe I was too stingy: there are at least 50 bands in NM that could beat that score.

Oh, one comment made by another user I agree with wholeheartedly: UCLA sucks. Fight on, brother.
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drumming good, everything else terrible
xenokitchen18 July 2003
I hate this movie. I just think this movie is bad. The drumming is spectacular, but the dialogue is horrible, and the main character is a brat who can't even read drum music but somehow got a college scholarship for his drumming. It is also surprising that he got a scholarship because throughout the movie he rebels against the coach. You are supposed to feel sad for the star as he is kicked out of the drumline numerous times for various reasons, but i just felt glad that the movie might end there. But it didn't. This is an enormous waste of two hours in my opinion. One part of the movie that especially comes to mind when say "a waste of two hours" is a scene where the drumline section leader walks up to the drummers one at a time and plays on their drum with them walking forward. The drummers are supposed to follow. No one is is able to do it except, of course the star of the movie. But once he's is done playing the part with the section leader also playing on the star's drum, the band teacher walks up and says somethin to the effect of "you do what i tell you to do, and you're an asshole." I hate this movie. I nearly cried when i saw Ebert gave it 3 stars out of four. My rating: 2 out of 10 stars. And this movie earned that rating.
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Do drummers think of themselves as athletes?
moviedude129 November 2003
Orlando Jones is the music director of a college band department that has recruited band's "next big thing," a drummer out of Harlem (Cannon) who faces the usual growing pains while feebly attempting to prove that the band members belong on the same level as the jocks...

Before you start chastising me for knocking the band and all the times we had in high school, I am only saying that band members are not on the same level as jocks, but they ARE athletes at the college level. During the half time of any college game, it is the band's responsibility to keep the fans entertained and want to stick around for the second half (no matter how bad the football team may--or may not-- be doing). (And besides, I was also in band in high school.)

Jones meets with some resistance as he attempts to deal with "the next big thing," both from his boss, his peers, and the section leader of the snare drum section. But there was a side to this film that I did not expect...college band's Super Bowl, if you will. The sites are spectacular, and cameos add to the zest behind the scenes as Jones' band squares off with his old mentor's band for "all the marbles..."
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gives the wrong impression
davphv7 September 2003
Went into the movie with a bit of curiosity on how they'd handle the drumline aspect (I didn't expect the movie plot to be any good anyway). It was entirely disppointing. I've been out of a competitive drumline for 25 years, and I can still play better than they did. The showdown was a crock. I doubt if that is what really goes on - it was all flash and little chops.
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Indeed a different style of music film...fun for just about anyone
Robert W.22 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I noticed a common thread in many of the reviews for Drumline on IMDb. Many said the same thing that Drumline surprised them and it was a good thing. I'm not sure many people ever think about a marching band being a true test of music like bands, or dancing, or rock singing and certainly you don't really think of it as competitive and yet out comes Drumline and changes all of that with style and flare. I know nothing about marching bands or American Universities for that matter (yes I am Canadian) so I don't know how much truth there is to the film but it just happens to be very entertaining, fun, touching, and well delivered all around. It's not perfection or award winning or a feat of film making and yet it seems to be something that everyone just sits down and really enjoys. One of the keys to music films is of course the music. The more I like the music personally...the greater the film...consider Dirty Dancing, or Mama Mia, or Hairspray but the odd thing about Drumline is that the music is not typical or any type or brand. They do play modern music with their marching band but the story is what keeps the film afloat and truly entertains.

Nick Cannon is cocky but brutally talented Devon Miles. Cannon holds the role very well. He comes across as smart, and well spoken and talented but his character is very entertaining and has quite an arc to his story throughout the film. Zoe Saldana is Devon's love interest in the film. Saldana is a talented actress, I've seen her perform very well but other than being a love interest she doesn't really get a whole lot to deal with in her character. The character is under developed unfortunately but Saldana and Cannon make a good couple with great chemistry between them. Orlando Jones is terrific and gives truly a stand out performance as Dr. Lee, the leader of the marching band. Jones gives a moving performance and really gives the film nearly all of it's heart and power.

Director Charles Stone III is seemingly new to the directors chair for Hollywood films but he seems to hold his own making a spectacle of marching bands. The sheer concept seems ludicrous and yet marching bands and the entire competition never seemed so exciting and entertaining. I am actually surprised that the film makers didn't decide to milk this film for straight to DVD sequels although there is still time. So if you're looking for something light hearted with some intense competition and yet something completely different from other films in the same genre this one is almost certain to entertain you. A solid film. 8/10
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Pass on this lame piece of work
cutpurse77720 February 2004
I thought it would at least have a good beat, but it didn't even have that. And the overly slick camera tricks were not enough to save this director who was clearly trying to overcompensate for a lack of ability to JUST TELL THE STORY.

Bad movie, bad directing, abysmal dialogue.
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Horrible acting by Nick Cannon
DeadInbred28 December 2002
The movie looked good in its initial announcement, but choosing to make the movie about showbands was a major disappointment. It would have been better about a true marching band that really works to put together a good show, not goes out and learns in a day or two how to get in the shape of a car or play as loud as possible with a bad sound. The performance by Nick Cannon is abominable. A jar of jelly could have delivered a more riveting performance. Not only was Cannon a horrible actor, but he had the audacity to go on to Jay Leno and make fun of real marching bands. Real class act. All in all, don't see the movie, and if you do, don't think it is about marching band.
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Doesn't even attain awfulness
beresfordjd18 April 2006
This is one VERY dumb movie.Clichéd, weakly scripted and an insult to the intelligence of a moron. Whoever persuaded anyone to put up money for this sack must be some kind of genius salesman (or woman). Cannon could not act if his life depended on it and the supporting players are not much better. I doubt very much that this movie was aimed at anyone with an IQ above 2-in that it succeeds. I can watch almost anything but could not watch anymore than 30 minutes. I only made it past the first 5 minutes because I could not believe what I was watching. Why do movie makers insist on pumping out this rubbish is totally beyond me - did it make any money? The public deserve better than this.
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Extreme talent but worth a movie?.....
vivni6 September 2003
Exceptionally talented drumming which holds your attention for a half hour or so but after 2 hours your mind goes numb.......if I never hear another drum beat again it will be too soon. Who on earth thought to make a movie of such a load of drivel. I was expecting a tongue in cheek comedy. I could not have been further from the truth!
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I Liked It!!
huggy_bear16 October 2003
I have to admit, I bought this movie for my son, who is also a snare drummer in high school marching band. I really didn't hold out much hope that I would actually enjoy this one at all. But, oddly enough, I really did enjoy watching this movie. I don't know why, but it kind of "grew" on me. The acting was good and the story was good also. Some of the scenes were a little predictable, but overall I would recommend this one.
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A Hip-Hop Like Fun Movie!
moviewizguy8 May 2007
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.

After I've just seen the first 10 minutes of the film, I already knew it would be a fantastic film. I don't know why there is so much hate in this film on IMDb, with a low rating like 5.2/10?! Maybe people can't handle the fact it's just a really good film.

I like the marching band world. I'm in it at school and I love the fact it holds true to that. The bands in the film were creative with their skills, fun, and entertaining to watch! I don't even know if you could watching this film standing up without jumping with the beat because it will make your feet tap.

The acting by Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana, Orlando Jones, and Leonard Roberts were all good. This film, like Akeelah and the Bee, Last Holiday, and Barber Shop, is what makes films with a majority African American so good. The drum sequences in this film are amazing.

If you hate this film just because it's "black", you are what makes the world bad these days. This is afar from being a bad film. It's a wonderful, very entertaining, and has its funny moments.
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Get over yourself, kid!
pens909129 November 2003
I didn't go into this movie expecting my world views to change, and they didn't. I do have a better appreciation for the college level marching bands, though.

But the lead performance just killed this movie for me. So smug and self-rightous to the point I wanted someone to smack him! But it never came. That all too familiar head sway, neck roll, and thrusting out of his jaw. Ugh. I never once rooted for him. The whole movie I was rooting for someone to take him down several pegs and teach him some common respect.

And not once is he worried about losing his scholarship!!
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camera_obscura15 October 2003
this movie has to be the WORST film i have ever seen in my life. what a SLEEPER. i was actually somewhat excited to see this movie because i am a big fan of orlando jones, but i was extremely disappointed with this movie. i saw it on the plan ride back from New York. let's just say that was the LONGGEEST plane ride ever because of this HORRIBLE movie. it literally was painful to watch. rating: -23948 out of +10
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