Drumline: A New Beat

Drumline A New Beat

PLOT:

The story follows Danielle (Dani) Raymond (Alexandra Shipp), an upper class Brooklyn girl who defies her parents in order to attend a college in Atlanta so she can join – and revitalize – their once-prominent drum line. Dani’s quest to become the first female section leader of the drum line in the school’s history will be hampered by upperclassmen (including her cousin, Tyree (Jeff Pierre), her feelings for fellow band mate and rival, Jayven (Jordan Calloway), and the school’s crosstown rivals.

REVIEW:

In the marching band world, Drumline is both revered and reviled for what it did as far as bringing a legitimate marching band film to the mainstream, that is to say, one where the band isn’t full of stereotypical nerds, dweebs, and dorks being pushed around by the football team. No one really asked for a sequel, especially all these years later, and yet VH1 decided to give us Drumline: A New Beat.

What is this about?

A feisty girl defies her parents, classmates and rivals in her quest to lead her school’s drumline and help it reclaim its former distinction.

What did I like?

Honor thy elders. In sequels and reboots we are often privy to these small references to a character from the original. I believe the term they use for that is “fan service”. At first, I was expecting some of that in this film, but lo and behold we get two of the stars from the original, Leonard Roberts and Nick Cannon, to reprise their roles. Also, there is a mention of Orlando Jones’ character, Dr. Lee, as well, which was probably the best part of going back in time that this film could have done, save for the pictures and video we in Roberts’ office.

Familiar scenery. I was just up at my alma mater this weekend and, while much has changed, much is still the same. Take for instance, my dorm. It has now been refurbished into the administration/registrar/scholarship/financial aid office. I doubt anyone will be sneaking girls in through the window now! The football field is still the same, just a newer scoreboard and different turf. The same kind of thing can be said for the fictional Atlanta A & T. Many of the familiar settings can be seen, such as the football field (still no visitors bleachers), the band room (same murals), but we also get new scenery, such as the diner, so a mix of old and new. That’s how it’s done!

Shot out of a cannon. The original film would never have been anything without Nick Cannon. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny him that honor. With that in mind, it only makes sense to bring him back for the sequel. I’m just glad they didn’t try to change and “mature” his character and make our lead his daughter of some sort. Then again, that may have been a better angle for her, but I’ll get to that shortly.

What didn’t I like?

Carbon copy. I noticed this in this rash of sequels coming out many years after their predecessors, they all want to introduce new audiences to what made them great, but forget they need to move the franchise forward. Much of that is the problem here. If you just read the plot synopsis and compare it to the original, the only real difference is the leads have been gender swapped. All the major points from the first film are in this one, as well…daddy issues, fight at the game, relationship problems, friends hooking up, etc. The only thins missing was the rival band trying to steal Dani away, which would have made for a nice subplot, since the directors are brother and have their own issues.

Misogynist punishment. At the first game, it is learned that one of the senior drummers made sure that Dani didn’t get on the line, because he didn’t want “a bitch” on the Senate. If that wasn’t bad enough, he keeps saying stuff like all throughout the movie, even talking behind Roberts’ back (within earshot, mind you). Nothing happens to him, though. As a matter of fact, after the final performance of the film, he gets a big hug from his section leader and Roberts. WTF?!? The closest thing this guy got to a punishment was being shown up by Nick Cannon a la what Dr. Lee did to him in the first film. In most any other band, this guy would have been kicked out, or at least demoted, for such nonsense, but I guess this kind of thing can just slide with this band, or the band that they are based off of.

Low budget. When I was in college, I remember chatting with a girl who was in the original film. She went to Grambling St. University and said that they got paid for those scenes they were in. This time around, I guess they weren’t allowed to use real schools. Even the Georgia Dome appeared to be off limits. I can say that the Southern Classic, or whatever it is called, actually started happening after the first film, hence the change in name for this one…trademark/copyright reasons, I suppose. VH1 just doesn’t have the budget to pay for all this stuff the way a movie studio would.

Final verdict on Drumline: A New Beat? Well, everything that you would want to see in this film is there. High octane performances, over the top choreography, studio musicians playing music for bands that would never sound that good in a billion years, etc. Unfortunately, this film falls into the TV trap of today. What I mean by that is pretty people and their problems. The drama in this film did not need to take up most of its runtime, and then it was resolved almost as fast as a 50s sitcom! In good conscience, I cannot recommend this. Don’t waste your time, instead go back and watch the original with Nick Cannon. It is much more enjoyable!

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

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