I love the movie Drumline.
I love it so much, that even though I’ve seen it more than a dozen times, I have to watch it every time I come across it on TV (which happens a lot more often than you might think).
I don’t even love it in an ironic way, like some people do, who think that it’s great because they like how corny it is; I actually think it’s a great movie. Then again, I also really like the movie Wimbledon and own it on DVD, so you may not want to give my taste in movies much stock.
Drumline had so many elements that made it enjoyable, an awesome acting performance by Nick Cannon as Devon Miles (one of my favorite all-time characters), the over-the-top plot that seemed like a sports movie but really wasn’t and a group of corny but likeable supporting characters.
So when I heard that VH1 was making a sequel to the original called Drumline: A New Beat, I knew I had to see it. It took me a little longer than I wanted to and some of the reaction from social media during its TV debut made me nervous, but I wasn’t going to miss it. And you know I have to seriously be a fan of something for it to be a non-sports addition to my blog.
Below is my reaction as it happened. (Obligatory Warning: major plot spoilers ahead)
As It Happened Reaction:
Our new main character, Dani, has a group of friends who just hang out in the park beating on drums… with a surprising level of choreography. Odd, but at least we know she has credentials, and her cousin Tyree is on the team.
We find out she’s going to Atlanta A&T University on a partial scholarship, so at least the storyline isn’t going to be a total carbon copy; we know she’s not a superstar recruit, and she comes from a well-off family rather than a financially struggling one.
Have to love that A&T exists in a city where marching band performances are so popular, they’re discussed on talk radio. Sean Taylor (from the original movie) is the new hope.
10 minutes in – This movie is going to buck some stereotypes! We’ve got a gay drummer who lets people know, “We all don’t snap our fingers.”
Dani’s face when Jayvon starts hitting on her is hilarious.
College hazing returns. That’s right crabs, you better work your butts off. And apparently they’re not allowed to hook up with each other. (They know this is college right???)
18 minutes in – This movie has already had two seemingly forced mentions of “selfies.” I fear this could lead to more awkward moments where the movie tries to be hip and into what all the kids like these days. Because that usually goes well.
Why do you need a recommendation to get a dish washing job? Seriously? Don’t colleges have a never-ending need for people working in the kitchens?
20 minutes in – Jayvon is dealing drugs! What happened Drumline 2?!?! I thought we were breaking stereotypes, not reinforcing them!
Only white character in this movie also plays a bass drum, like the one in the first movie. Only has one line of dialogue though through the first half hour, so its not looking good for him becoming a meaningful character.
I liked the old way of deciding the ranks of P1-4, where they made them play at night and upperclassmen from the overlooking hill flashed their lights and honked their horns. This new way of deciding right in front of them leads to less drama.
I like that they’re giving the Sean Taylor character a storyline, but having him try to hook up with the dean/his ex-girlfriend/his brother’s ex-wife seems a little odd. Original, but odd.
31 minute mark – Confused sexism. Drum line member (Armandi?) says he won’t let any “bitches” on the line. Dude, don’t you know what day and age this is? Are you trying to get yourself thrown off the band and create a scandal for your school?
Football player (also gay?) tells drummer to tear it up out there and that he’ll be watching (and we even see a glimpse of him on the sideline that he is, indeed, watching!). Guy doesn’t seem to understand the whole thing about going into a locker room at halftime to, I dunno, listen to the coach so as to not lose the football game… you know, the sport he plays. [Addendum: unless this is supposed to be during the pre-game… then that makes a little more sense.]
Another drummer forcing himself/herself onto the line! The spirit of Devon Miles (Nick Cannon) lives! Next thing you know they’ll be fighting another band.
36 minutes in – First direct reference to Devon Miles! Still haven’t seen him, but now we at least know the trailer wasn’t a lie and he’ll probably show up. But what’s this about him becoming as big as “P-Diddy?” How did that happen?
“The A&T/Southern State rivalry goes back YEARS!” So are we just going to pretend that Southern State is Morris Brown College? Did we just switch the two? Seriously, if you’re going to act like they’re the same why not just keep the original name?
40 minutes in – White bass drummer (Josh, nickname: JFK) got another line!
Jayvon’s dad, Jimmy LaPierre, a supposed hot shot singer is apparently well known enough that everyone knows who he is, but not well known enough that anybody has heard he’s performing right by the campus. Strange. Note: we don’t actually get to see his dad perform to know if he’s any good.
49 minutes in – Apparently the rules about challenges for a spot on the field have changed since the first movie. In the original, you could challenge any member of the line to take their spot, not just the last member to make it. Why you have to drive Jayvon and Dani apart producers? Why?
The dean is in the front row of the stands? What, they don’t have a box seat at the field for the head of the program?
I do love the world that these marching bands reside in. So what if you’re performing during the halftime of a football game, just go ahead and add an extra drum line face-off to the itinerary. We’ll just wait to get the second half of the game started once you’re done. Whereas in the world of regular college athletics (especially football) everything is planned out down to the minute and deviating from that schedule would probably cause an AD to burst a blood vessel.
FIGHT! FIGHT! No! Not yourselves! Yes, the other team. Now you get it.
61 minutes in – “There’s some dissension in the senate…” I didn’t realize they were testing out lines for the new upcoming Star Wars movie.
Nick Cannon straight up drives his car onto the running track around the field. If I see signs saying you can’t roller blade, skateboard or bike on a track… I’m pretty sure you can’t drive a car on there.
Dani managed to engineer the quickest transfer to a college in history. And since when do schools let you transfer in mid-semester?
75 minutes in – Devon Miles still has it! Now if he and Sean can just go battle the director of Southern State’s band, Sean’s brother, we’ll have a movie!
Love Sean’s face when he says truth.
And now Dani is un-transferred just like that?!?!
83 minutes in – Don’t you try and put Leon back in that closet!
How long is the pregame show for the Big Southern Classic? They’re on the air when it looks to be about 1-2 in the afternoon and the event doesn’t even start until that night? What is this, a Super Bowl-esque pregame build up?
Always wondered what the judging process was like for a marching band competition. Is it like figure skating or gymnastics where you write down your routine in advance and can get points based on the level of difficulty? Or do the judges just arbitrarily pick who they liked the most?
A&T wins! But what’s up with that hesitation on the celebration. You should have been going wild as soon as you heard, “For the first time in six years…”
So you’re just allowed to straight up challenge somebody to a drum line battle if you think you’re team should have won? Why do they even bother having a competition then? Can any team challenge the “winners” or is it just the runner-up?
Have to love that the drum line leader says he has an idea for their performance, and a few seconds later they all have blue masks and light-up drumsticks. Like you just pulled that performance out of thin air without practicing…
How do they decide who wins the drum line battle? It’s just the radio host guy who gets to pick?
Well, as you’d expect, A&T wins (drumming upside down probably clinched it) and Jayvon and Dani work things out. All’s well that ends well… even if it ends predictably.
Overall, Drumline: A New Beat does what you’d expect from a sequel of a beloved movie from the early 2000’s. It gave me that nostalgic feeling I wanted in a movie where the plot wasn’t exactly unpredictable. It wasn’t nearly as good as the original, but I don’t think anybody was expecting it to.
The amusing world where people take marching band competitions WAAAAY too seriously survived and I was treated to plenty of over-the-top scenes. Band competitions where the rules are seemingly made up on the spot and ridiculous choreography is executed perfectly is part of why I liked the original movie in the first place.
I was surprised that the movie chose to follow a storyline mostly independent from the original film though. It seemed less of a sequel and more of a second attempt at the film for a new generation.
I was expecting a storyline that focused more on restoring the A&T band’s former glory, perhaps with a backdrop of closing down the program for good if it could not, to add some urgency. I thought for sure I’d see Dr. Lee pop up ready to dole out advice to new band director Sean Taylor, and figured Nick Cannon’s character Devon Miles, the star that made the first movie shine, would play a much larger role helping Sean win the competition. I also would have liked to see the return of their rivals, Morris Brown College.
Maybe that would have been the easier movie to pull off as a “sequel” and it probably would have appealed better to fans of the original Drumline like myself, but I have to give props to VH1 for having the guts to go off the beaten path on this project.
I’d have to give Drumline: A New Beat a C+. It’s not bad for what you’d expect from a made-for-TV movie. It had a fun, relatively wholesome storyline, although I was surprised to see it could maintain a PG rating when one of the characters is shown dealing drugs, but I guess that’s the world we live in.
I’ll bump the grade up to a B for fans like me who were just happy to see a new Drumline movie. When you weren’t even expecting anything, it’s hard to complain about what you get.