MOVIE REVIEW- Dreamboys: Stompin' up a storm
For those people, mostly non-black, unfamiliar with step dancing, it doesn't matter, because the Atlanta-filmed Stomp the Yard moves it into the next generation. The lame-ish plot concerns a clash between traditional and new-school (i.e., street) styles and how they eventually blend to create if not a new art form, at least some spectacular production numbers.
Columbus Short stars as DJ Williams, a natural dancer who has more to learn in college than academics. He's sent to Atlanta's fictitious Truth University from Los Angeles after his little brother, Duron (Chris Brown), is killed in a fight by sore losers after their team wins a dance competition. College had been Duron's goal, but someone's got to represent.
DJ's Aunt Jackie (Valarie Pettiford), a Truth alumna, and Uncle Nate (Harry J. Lennix), whose company tends the campus grounds, give DJ emotional support and a job, respectively.
There are two top fraternities. Mu Gamma Xi has won the national step dancing championship for the last seven years. Theta Nu Theta is the perennial runner-up. When they see DJ's moves they both invite him to pledge. "I don't step, I battle," DJ warns them. He picks the less snooty Theta, as does his roommate, Rich (Ne-Yo, failing to provide much comic relief in a role that's obviously intended to).
The by-the-numbers script gives DJ a love interest from day one, but it takes April Palmer (Meagan Good) until about day three to return his affection. Would you believe she's going with Grant (Darrin Henson), one of Mu Gamma's top dancers? And would you believe he disrespects her? And would you believe he's actually her father's choice for her, not April's? And would you believe her father (Allan Louis) is the university provost, who will eventually determine DJ's academic future and, more importantly, whether he can dance in the national finals?
I won't mention the connection between Mr. Palmer and DJ's aunt and uncle. You really wouldn't believe that!
When the dancing starts you can overlook the plot, the acting, and any other weak points. Short gets plenty of opportunity to show off before DJ learns to be a team player, and Sylvester (Brian White), who "doesn't like anything street in his routines," gets to lead the Thetas in demonstrations of the old school before he realizes he needs to update if they're to stop being perpetual underdawgs. Their training regimen includes a shirtless run up Stone Mountain that's the non-musical eye candy highlight. Rocky can have his art museum.
Stomp the Yard is a less dramatically effective Drumline with a different type of competition, but the dances are, for the most part, excitingly filmed and edited. You Got Served has gotten served.