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2002 - PG-13 - 118 Mins.
Director: Charles Stone III
Producer: Dallas Austin, Wendy Finerman, Jody Gerson
Written By: Shawn Schepps and Tina Gordon Chism
Starring: Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldena, Orlando Jones, Leonard Roberts, and Jason Weaver.
Review by: Joe Rickey
Drumline (directed by Charles Stone III and written by Tina Gordon Chism and Shawn Schepps) stars Nick Cannon (Men in Black II, Love Don’t Cost a Thing), Zoe Saldana (Crossroads), Orlando Jones (The Time Machine), and Leonard Roberts (He Got Game). The film is about an inner-city star band member (Cannon) who is recruited to Atlanta A & T by the band instructor (Jones). Once there, a rivalry between the newcomer and an upperclassman and a rebellious attitude makes the transition more difficult than expected for the young man.

Drumline is an unsuccessful drama that was erroneously falsely advertised as a comedy in the television ads. Just because a film happens to have Orlando Jones, made famous by 7UP ads, does not, and I repeat, does not make it a comedy. The acting is uniformly bland. In the lead, Nick Cannon is uncharismatic. He doesn’t play the part of the supposedly rebellious drummer very well. Zoe Saldana fares a little better as she, unlike Cannon, has some charisma and brings a little excitement to her role. Orlando Jones is okay in a change of pace role for him as he plays it straight the whole way through as the stern band instructor. Leonard Roberts fails to make much of an impression. Direction by Charles Stone moves the film along at a fairly fast pace and style is seen in the climactic performance scenes which shine, but the fact is that the story being told is a routine tale that has a lot in common with such films as Bring It On and Save the Last Dance. Needless to say, the premise is clichéd, wholly unimaginative, and very flimsy in construction. The film basically treads water until the inevitable conclusion that you can see coming a mile away. The overall generic and predictable story being told undermines what positives the film contains because you know exactly how the film will end from the very first few moments of the film. Nothing new is explored during the course of the film that you have not seen before. While some may welcome familiarity, Drumline comes across as laziness on the part of the screenwriters because they can’t invent something fresh to add to the formula. The film would have benefited greatly from some form of quirkiness but, alas, none is to be found. Also, Orlando Jones’ character harbors hatred towards Cannon for reasons that aren’t very logical and his motivation for acting so is never explained properly and therefore comes across as silly. The relationships between the characters aren’t well developed enough for one to care like they are supposed to about the onscreen personas. They might as well be cardboard cutouts for all they are developed. The cinematography is subdued and never provides a unique or original viewing experience, which could have helped differentiate the film from such cinematic cousins as Save the Last Dance and Bring It On.

Overall, Drumline has its moments but makes for a relatively bland experience as a whole and therefore, I cannot recommend it.

Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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