|With the effervescent Nick Cannon in front of the camera for most of Drumline, viewers are assured of a kicking and adrenaline filled journey into the world of Southern college level marching band that promises to entertain most viewers. Although the story is easily considered predictable in nearly every single scene, the entertainment quotient of the film is such that it probably won't matter that viewers will know exactly how this film will begin, proceed, and end. In fact, the film is comfortable enough to let viewers focus on the fun, rather than the story.|
And though there is an appreciable story, the fact that the film almost hits two hours and doesn't delve too deeply into any story but that of the main character makes it feel like the editor should have been a little more enthusiastic with his cutting. Though there are enough drum sequences in the piece to keep it moving at a good pace, that pace does slow down in spots because of conversations that tend to run a little long. As this film isn't a straight action flick or a complete "thinker" piece, the balance between the two is sometimes uneven. For example, a scene with a lot of talk between the characters is followed by a high paced sequence featuring the snare drummers on the "drumline."
But the sequences are so disparate that the film speeds up and slows down in too much of a jerky manner. But these two flaws in pacing and length don't mean the picture is completely unredeemable. Far from it, in fact. The fun of this film isn't because it's high concept and formulaic. It's that the story is one that audiences have seen before and don't mind seeing again. Like the story of the sports team that has one player that doesn't fit in with the bunch in the beginning, but ends up saving the team in the end, Drumline presents its audience with the same type of sports story, told from the angle of marching band, instead of a sports team.
It's really due to the actors in this film (combined with a little drum action) that this picture remains interesting for it's entire length. Though it probably walks a thin line between what can be considered exciting and what might make some people chuckle. Because these characters are awfully serious about their marching band. While people who play musical instruments have been made fun of in the past, Drumline is anything but a joke about people in the marching band. Orlando Jones character in particular is quite a serious guy. He's taken some comedic and dramatic turns in the past, but with this role he shows that his serious side is convincing.
Though it should be said that a little laughter might have benefited his character, as he doesn't crack a smile more than once. The lack of comedy from certain actors notwithstanding, the picture as a whole is still quite entertaining. With the standard clueless white guy jokes (this film has an African American dominated cast) and the "girls can do everything as well as guys" bits, the movie travels into well-worn territory with well-produced comedy. Although the script could have seen better days, the performances cover up the lack of creativity with the dialogue.
Star drummer Nick Cannon and the actress who plays his love interest, ZoŽ Saldana have a nice amount of chemistry on screen, though their relationship should have come to the forefront for more screen time. In point of fact, the back stories and relationships between all the characters all might have been focused upon more, and it's a mystery as to why so much screen time was needed for so little information about the characters. It's hard to classify this film an ensemble comedy as the supporting character remain somewhat of a mystery for most of the film.
But in looking at this picture for what it represents itself as, a comedy with an inspirational message, the film succeeds on most levels. It is lightly comedic with enough serious moments to make the subject entertaining. The rousing drum cadence scenes put a lot of "oomph" into what sometimes is a poorly written screenplay and the wide variety of characters seem to cover up that deficiency as well. While the movie has more style than substance, the topic is still exciting and has enough humor in it to entertain a family audience. Drumline is a successful comedy about college students told without any crass humor and includes a worthy "lesson" for young viewers.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.