A fish-out-of-water comedy about a talented street drummer from Harlem who enrolls in a Southern university, expecting to lead its marching band's drumline to victory. He initially flounders in his new world, before realizing that it takes more than talent to reach the top.
"Drumline" celebrates a vibrant American cultural tradition. At historically black colleges like the fictitious Atlanta A&T University and its real-life crosstown rival, Morris Brown College, a Saturday afternoon football game is something of an afterthought, an excuse to watch the marching bands engage in fiercely competitive battles of rhythm, choreography and showmanship. For more than 50 years, with ever greater flash and inventiveness, these "show style" bands have thrilled their fans with performances that combine military precision with breathtaking musical flair. "Drumline" offers a generous showcase for this irresistible art form. The movie is structured like a musical, pinning a skimpy, hectic plot to rousing sequences of rhythmic invention, including both large-scale stadium-shaking production numbers and sharp, intense episodes of hand-to-hand musical combat. A. O. Scott
2002-12-13 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Drumline