This might be a newsflash to some, but I can’t dance. I can’t groove, shimmy or even lay down some dope moves. As such, a whole generation of movies is probably lost on me. In it, young hip kids move around and perform moves that would have made Fred Astaire jealous. It is a showcase of talent on the most basic level. One such movie appeared on my review plate named Stomp the Yard: Homecoming. Hopefully with some fresh moves, we can get an interesting story to boot.
Atlanta, Georgia. A dance competition goes down in the hood and newcomer Chance Harris (played by Collins Pennie) is doing quite well. However, when the chips go down, the local favorite is deemed the winner in a very questionable decision. Later that night, Chance is introduced to a plethora of fist sandwiches at the hands of Jay (played by David Banner) and his band of merry thugs. Chance pleads with them that he will pay them back, just give him some time.
Later, we see Chance working at a diner that his father, Terry (played by Keith David) owns. They have a waitress, Janice (played by Jasmine Guy) and other assorted kitchen help. Terry dictates to Chance that he needs help this weekend to take care of the homecoming crowd and that he needs to take responsibility and concentrate on helping the diner. Chance says sure and then focuses on a bunch of girls at a nearby table.
Chance is apparently lucky in love as he has a girlfriend named Nikki (played by Tika Sumpter). They talk for a while before Chance has to go to his fraternity, the Theta Nu Thetas for stepping practice. The fraternity is led by Dane (played by Pooch Hall) who leads Chance and others like Ty (played by Terrence J) in a few electric steps that will hopefully help them win the National Sprite Step Off Competition. The prize is five grand and glory to your fraternity.
The Theta Nu’s biggest opponent is in the form of the rival fraternity and last year’s winner, the Mu Gamma Zi’s. They are led by Taz (played by Stephen “tWitch” Boss). They seem like a cinch to repeat but Chance does have some new moves that he wants to incorporate into the choreography. Taz is also going out with Brenda (played by Kiely Williams), an old flame of Chance (and that he still has feelings for).
However as we draw closer to homecoming, Jay and his gang show back up to collect their debt. They attack the Theta Nu frat and leave them laying. Meanwhile Chance is having issues with Nikki who questions his fidelity and his father who questions his lack of responsibility. Can Chance turn around his life, win the Sprite Step Off Competition with his fraternity and pay back the debt that he owes the gang of hoods? Cue the music!
The most positive thing I can say about the movie is that the dance and step moves are pretty electric. These guys move with grace and give us a strong energy for which to follow the movie. Some of the costumes they use for the competition are rather silly (we get everything from Cavemen to Ninjas) but it would be unfair to say that the dancing is anything less than awesome.
However in the same breath, the actual movie portion is less than stellar. I find it funny that a ton of fights are nearly started but they are all solved by dancing or stepping up. “I’m going to kick you from here to Detroit, but first we are going to dance about it”. The exception to this is Jay who didn’t seem to get the memo and proceeds to kick everybody’s behind to where they came from.
It doesn’t help that Chance acts like Wimpy from Popeye. Frequently in the movie, he’ll be like “I don’t owe you any money, I don’t owe you anything”. Then the gang threatens the slightest hint of violence and he’s all like: “Alright, I’ll get you your money just give me some time to get it”. Can you get me the money by next Tuesday? Or else we are going to cut off hamburgers today, buddy.
The rest of the crew is okay at best. I did find slight favor in Pooch Hall who I had seen in The Game and Keith David who is always fun to listen to. But it falls apart after that. It almost as if they wrote themselves into a corner at several points and just decided that step moves and funky music was enough to make the audience forget about the number of holes in the plot.
Interesting note, Jay doesn’t suffer any repercussions from his actions either. He pretty much beats up everybody in the film and presumably gets his money at the end. Don’t villains usually get their comeuppance in these inspirational movies? Maybe instead we will just step about it.
*end of spoiler*
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation. This film was shot in Hotlanta, GA, home of the Atlanta Braves (who are going down, GO PHILLIES!). Anyway, the film is a pretty decent effort. Most of the moves look pretty hot as long as you can suffer through the slow motion and camera tricks. This movie has a lot of darker moments or events that happen at night and it doesn’t suffer too much (but for some reason, the night scenes seem almost green). The video is clearly for the ladies as almost every guy is sporting six-pack abs and the girls just stand around.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English Dolby Digital track (French also available). As probably expected, the music is a mixture of rap, dance and urban beats. It comes through your speaker setup quite loudly (prompting your grandpa to come downstairs and tell you to turn off that loud rap music).
Dialog depends on how well you can decipher militant step calls but is clear for the most part. The sound effects are fairly average and you do get some 5.1 action but it is mostly reserved for the step sequences. The movie sticks around in the center and doesn’t really deviate. Subtitles are included for English, English SDH, Subtitled Commentary, French and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers: Faster
- Commentary with Director Rob Hardy, Producer Will Packer, Collins Pennie and Stephen “tWitch” Boss: You know there is this movie you know and we made it. It had a lot of stepping moves you know and we trained really hard you know. When we went to college you know, we had fraternities you know like this. We pulled those you know experiences and applied them you know to the movie you know. GOOD LORD. If he says “you know” one more time, you know, I’m going to drive a pair of combat boots so far up his you know that he’ll wish he would have paid more attention in English class.
- Deleted Scenes 11:11: Eight deleted scenes are provided here and it basically fleshes out the diner where Chance works with his dad. So we get a lot more of Keith David, Jasmine Guy and Charles Black (who plays the cook, Shorty). Actually gives a lot more depth to the relationship between Chance and his dad.
- Stomp on the Yard: Choreography 10.13: In this typical making of featurette we get about how they were taking stepping to the next level (they keep saying that several times) and how the stars felt to work in this movie. There is also a feature on the fact that they brought women stepping to this film. I must have slept through that part, because it lasted about as long as it took for me to type this paragraph.
- Previews: Stomp the Yard, The Back-Up Plan, To Save a Life, The Pillars of the Earth, Hawthorne and Rescue Me
I watch plenty of movies with plot holes. I try not to worry about them and just enjoy them for the picture they pretend to be. However, the movies have to be fun in nature too. Stomp the Yard: Homecoming has some nice moves but more often than not gets dragged down in particulars and some really awful stereotypes for a dance movie.
The disc is decent with good audio and a sharp video presentation. The selection of extras is also enough for any fan of the film series or genre (as long as you can steer clear of the you knows in the commentary). Most genre fans will pick this one up but I would suggest that the general movie public stay away from this one. Recommendation to avoid unless David Banner threatens me with my life. Then you should probably pick up about a dozen and in blu-ray.