From the eardrum-shattering shout of “Attention!” that echoes over the opening logo through to the strobe-lit krump dancing contest that follows, the early scenes of
Stomp the Yard are so loud and incoherent that they feel like punishment. After an equally incomprehensible street brawl, director Sylvain White pauses long enough to introduce his protagonist—DJ (Columbus Short), a talented young dancer incarcerated for his role in said brawl and, upon his release, shipped by his mom from South Central to Atlanta’s ever-so-subtly named Truth University (a fictional amalgam of prominent black colleges). There, DJ falls for a fine sister (Meagan Good) whose father—the dean of Truth—doesn’t look kindly on his little angel socializing with an ex-felon. What’s a brother to do? Why, put his fancy footwork to use in service of step-dancing competitions, a tradition at black fraternities and sororities, which, as filmed by White with an overload of slow-motion effects and high-speed shutters, are about as cinematic as a televised Riverdance concert. Newcomer Short has charisma, charm, and athleticism to burn, but it’s mostly for naught in a movie that spends two tedious hours pulling out every stop in the gold-hearted-kid-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks -meets-gold-hearted-girl-who-values-true-love-above-privilege playbook.
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