Sadly, Stomp the Yard was neither as good nor as so-bad-it's-good as I'd hoped it would be. But the movie does have two very good things going for it: dazzling step sequences and Columbus Short. If you're unfamiliar with one or both of those things, let me fill you in. Stepping is the rhythmic group dance style embraced by historically black fraternities, and Columbus Short is the hottie who stars in Stomp the Yard.
Short (whose resume includes the Broadway tour of "Stomp") plays DJ, a tough kid who leaves the world of hip-hop dance battles in Los Angles to attend the fictional Truth University in Atlanta. On scholarship and working his way through school, he soon finds himself smitten with April (Meagan Good), who's romantically linked to one of the big men on campus. The rich kids shun him as just another guy from the ghetto—that is, until they see him dance.
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Suddenly, the two main fraternities on campus both want DJ on their step teams, but his edgier hip-hop style is at odds with the stodgy step routines. And thank goodness for that, because its DJ's dancing that really makes the movie — that, and the gratuitous shots of his killer smile and chiseled abs.
Unfortunately, most of this eye candy emerges from a rather dull and contrived plot, wherein the frats prepare for the national step championships and DJ pursues April. What's more, the already weak plot is marred by acting that ranges from passable to laughable. The exception is Short, who plays DJ with a sincerity that's a welcome respite from the silliness.
The movie's big selling point, of course, is the dancing, which mixes the stomping and hand slaps of step-dance with sultry hip-hop and breakdancing. But therein also lies the biggest tragedy of Stomp the Yard: The cameras won't stand still long enough to let us appreciate the moves. Instead of enhancing the dancing, the shaky, handheld camera work, fast-motion effects, and quick cuts distract from the real show. Disorienting as it may, you still won't be able to take your eyes off Short, whose all-around talent promises a very satisfying future.
(Click on the images below to enlarge.)