Stomp the Yard

2007-10-08 12:59
What happens:

After the murder of his younger brother during a fight he partly caused, DJ, a troubled 19-year-old street dancer from Los Angeles is able to bypass juvenile hall by enrolling in the historically black Truth University in Atlanta. But his efforts to get an education and charm the uptown girl he likes are complicated when he joins a campus fraternity that needs his street style and dance moves to beat their rivals in the national step show competition.

What we thought:

This is a remake of almost every "inspirational" dance movie ever made... in a way. Stomp the Yard is saved by passable acting, and, more importantly, by jaw-dropping dancing.

Shot with courage, for high-impact sometimes frighteningly physical effect as if the camera is right in the action, the movie takes lessons from the best documentary style.

The dance sequences are, apparently, real not CGI or stunt people. And though the audiences were seeded with well-briefed extras, many crowd members were apparently not aware that a feature film was being shot, and believed the competition to be real. The result is an atmosphere that really feels adrenaline-charged. It's difficult to resist.

Otherwise Stomp the Yard is rote in virtually every other way. The rags to riches tale. The forbidden love. The personal growth of the cocksure teenager - through hardship - into a more complex, braver, and stronger man. In essence, it's a fable, and you'll know from the first move just exactly where it's going to end.

But the plot, predictable as it is, is comforting because it's so familiar. It provides a reliable framework for a movie about an under-the-radar cultural trend - in this case the less famous tradition of the rhythm-based step-dancing.

From Footloose to Step Up, tensions and triumphs in these sorts of movies are always played out through the medium of dance. So DJ learns temperance and strategy from his middle class university peers (and his uptown girl) while they learn to loosen up and discover their wild side, thereby breaking out of the militaristic traditions of Step to do something bigger and better. Yawn! Cliché! Class conflict! Slo-mo! But that's how this story always goes. Don't fight it, just get in line.

Great, or grating?

The "talky" bits of are less convincing. Why does DJ fall in love - from across the room - with April (Megan Good), who appears to be both a bit thick, and no hotter the numerous other hot girls in the film? The slow, sappy rhythms of the love story seem completely alien to the risky, thudding, heart-stoppingly good dance sequences.

So you're alternately choking on your popcorn in amazement, or giving yourself salt poisoning out of pure boredom while praying that the scene you're watching is headed for the dance-floor. Any excuse to get that action back on will do, and the dance scenes are sexier than the bedroom scenes by far.

Still, don't be tempted to see this on DVD. If you're a dance movie fan of any kind, Stomp the Yard will blow you away on the big screen, even if it takes some patience to survive the girly bits.

- Jean Barker
A mash-up of every dance and college movie ever made - babes, brawling, unbelievable endings - the lot. But you just gotta see this dancing.

Kentswane 2007/06/15 10:17 AM
Stomp the Yard I loved Chris Brown's dancing. I almost cried wen i discovered that he wasn't in the whole movie. That guy from Soul Food is jus hot. Neyo, Neyo,Neyo-i have nothing to say about him, i jus think he is too gay on the movie. Every guy is too hot (did they go thru make-up?). Overrall: I love the dancing! The movie a bit like "You got Served" wit different dance routines. A perfect 'Girls Night Out' Movie. Ladies u will drool!
fritorious 2007/08/04 12:35 PM
stomp the yard seeying chris brown in the movie made me love him more and it made me crie, and i couldnt contain myself after the movies, i was so thrield i dont mind catching some more ,maybe i could learn some moves.
anonnymous 2007/08/18 12:48 PM
stomp the yard the movie is good. after watching it, i felt like watching it over n over again. columbus short is hot together with mr white they drive me crazy.
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