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Stomp The Yard

Stomp The Yard

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary; Featurette; Extended dance sequences; Deleted scene; Blooper reel.

STEPPING is a dance style that’s firmly rooted in American college fraternities. It relies on complex, often aggressive rhythms, that frequently take the form of showdowns between rival groups. To be a part of such fraternities takes a tremendous amount of dedication and discipline, as each fraternity is run in almost military style.

Sylvain White’s film Stomp The Yard takes a look at the culture of stepping and certainly entertains during its exciting dance sequences. But like most films of this nature (such as the recent Step Up), once the music stops and the talking starts the problems really begin.

Characters conform to stereotype and the contrivances stack up to create a hopelessly generic offering that follows a different kind of rhythm (one dictated by box office rather than artistic creativity).

The film follows the fortunes of DJ (Columbus Short) a typical youth from the wrong side of the tracks whose brother is killed in a fight following a stepping confrontation in an underground Los Angeles club. Harshly sent to prison for his part in the brawl, DJ is then sent to a posh university in Atlanta in a bid to get his life in order and is placed in the care of his no-nonsense uncle (Harry J Lennix), who also enrols him in a work-study programme.

Almost immediately, DJ meets and falls for glamorous student April (Meagan Good) only to discover that she’s the trophy girlfriend of Grant (Darrin Henson), the star dancer for one of the university’s champion stepping fraternities. So, he joins a rival group, led by Sylvester (Brian White) and determines to impress April with his dancing skills, while coming to terms with his own shortcomings and guilt in the process.

There’s certainly a guilty pleasure to be derived from watching the events of Stomp The Yard unfold, particularly as the dance choreography is well-realised and makes the most of White’s background as a video music director.

The actors, too, are easy on the eye and go about their dance routines with great conviction – Short, in particular, is a veteran of Savion Glover’s stage show Stomp and has worked as a choreographer, so feels totally at ease during the dance sequences.

But everyone is ultimately let down by Robert Adetuyi’s formulaic screenplay that drags out proceedings to a needlessly long length. Most of the story development is telegraphed way in advance, while the occasional surprise merely succeeds in straining credibility and emerge as unintentionally funny. There’s also one stepping face off too many, contributing to a finale that outstays its welcome.

The result is a hopelessly overblown experience that would have benefited from being as trim and slight of foot as its principle characters.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 1hr 50mins