Stomp the Yard--boasting the funniest mock heroic preview since Drumline--opened big this weekend, and Meghan Keane delivers the goods in her New York Sun review. The film follows a young dancer named DJ as he arrives at Truth University, "still recovering from the death of his brother, the victim of gun violence at the hands of a sore-losing dance squad back in L.A." (Note to self: Dancers For Life club was not a completely stupid idea after all. You were right: No one should live in fear of dancing well.) Anyway, DJ finds healing and purpose in a strictly regimented, over the top dance fraternity, and eventually even gets the girl. Keane suggests the film, "overestimates the transcendence of step dancing and is ultimately undone by the male equivalent of jazz hands."
And, no, Keane does not expand this theory into a critique of the architects of the Iraq war.
Many box office wrap-ups have noted the wisdom of releasing this film on MLK Day weekend, as if teenagers who propelled the dance drama to Number One were looking more for a cultural experience to foster remembrance than a loud, raucous--I was going to say "hip," but I'm struggling to remain relevent here--bangin' flick for a Friday night. It was also interesting, however, to learn that "after members of Alpha Phi Alpha kicked up a fuss about how black fraternities are depicted in Stomp the Yard, Sony Pictures popped for an undisclosed donation to the King memorial." So love the film or hate it, it's all about love for the civil rights movement, anyway. It's just an undisclosed sum of love.
Keane's take? "Stomp the Yard wants to make an argument for the historical and cultural significance of stepping, but no amount of trick camerawork can make hissing snake hand puppets look tough."
Well, it's good to finally know why the heavies in my own neighborhood don't take me seriously. As for "historical and cultural" content, I'm sure it's well-intentioned, but probably ultimately like the political content of monster movies: Expected, perfunctory and not what the vast majority of the film's audience goes to see the film for. (Excluding, of course, graduate school students desperately seeking a fun angle for a stalled thesis.)
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