“Stomp the Yard”

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
Theatrical Release: January 12, 2007

At its core, Stomp the Yard is a romantic drama disguised as a dance film. Or is it the other way around? DJ (Columbus Short) is a troubled teen from Los Angeles who gets a chance for a better life when he is admitted into Atlanta’s privileged Truth University. Just when he thought he had escaped a life of gangs, DJ finds himself in the middle of a “war” between two upper-crust fraternities where stepping (a popular dance form) is their weapon of choice.

When DJ realizes the coed he falls for is the girlfriend of the school’s champion stepper, he joins the rival fraternity to try to show her–and himself–that he’s as good as anyone else there.  Stomp the Yard is not an original film. Add some drums and you’ve got Drumline. Change some of the characters around and you’ve got Save the Last Dance.

What sets the movie apart is the stepping. The precision involved at this level is impressively complicated and Short–a dancer and choreographer–is beautifully expressive both as an actor and a dancer.

Sure the plot is predictable and hokey at times. But Short and Meagan Good (as his crush April) have wonderful chemistry together, and the supporting cast–including Harry J. Lennix as DJ’s no-nonsense uncle–are delightful to watch.

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