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Fox Home Entertainment presents
Drumline (2002)

"Ah, the musicianship of hip hop."
- Dr. Lee (Orlando Jones)

Review By: Kevin Clemons  
Published: April 16, 2003

Stars: Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana
Other Stars: Orlando Jones, Angela Gibbs, Von Coulter, Afemo Omilami, Leonard Roberts
Director: Charles Stone III

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (innuendo and language)
Run Time: 01h:58m:41s
Release Date: April 15, 2003
UPC: 024543076254
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-B+A- B+

DVD Review

I keep a pair of drum sticks in my kitchen at all times. If the mood strikes me right, I find it exhilarating to drum on any surface available. See, when I was a kid I spent countless hours behind a snare drum. From band practice to just goofing off in my parent's basement, there was no time that I was not annoying someone somewhere with my incessant racket. In high schoo,l my friends found it strange that I would enjoy myself after a long day's football practice by going to band practice and standing in the blistering heat with a large snare drum attached to my hip. I love to drum.

To put it simply, no film has ever brought to life the sheer thrill of drumming as vibrantly as Drumline. And yet, this aspect of the story is only the tip of its sword. Drumline is that rare teen film that presents commendable role models as leads and, at its center, boasts a very believable and true-to life-romance.

Devon (Cannon) is a college freshman at fictitious Alabama A&T University. The university is known for its marching band, as well as its rivalry with the crosstown Morris Brown University. These bands find themselves competing against each other every year at the BET Classic, and it's likely that by the end of Drumline, we the viewers, will also be there. What is central to this journey is that Devon, is a kid from Harlem, recruited by A&T's conductor, Dr. Lee (Jones), and how his attitude will translate to the team atmosphere of the marching band. During the course of the film he makes enemies, romances an upperclassman and generally steps on a few toes.

Drumline was a surprise hit when it was released in December of 2002 and it is easy to see why. Star Nick Cannon has such natural charisma that it is undeniable this is his show. What also makes this film special is that it does not talk down to its audience as many teen films do. The central characters refrain from drug or alcohol intake and, instead, are seen feeding their minds as well as their character. It is likely that a lesser film would have included Devon as an inner city youth with a jaded background or a checkered past; here, the filmmakers wisely eschew these possibilities in an early scene when Devon confronts the father that walked out on him at an early age. He points out that he has never been arrested, that he has no children running around and that he is on path to receive a full scholarship from a prestigious university. Drumline is simply smart filmmaking.

This is a film that deserves an audience of all ages. It is not an exposé on marching bands by any means and those hoping for this will be greatly disappointed. It is simple and straightforward entertainment that marks one of the most unexpected surprises I have come across in some time.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen image, the transfer for Drumline is not reference quality by any means, but it certainly is one of the better transfers you are likely to see. What separates this transfer is that the film boasts a bevy of bright colors and each hits their mark perfectly. The overly rich blues and greens in several of the scenes showcase some eye-popping clarity and crispness. Sharpness and detail are very good, while black level is perfectly rendered, with nice depth. I noticed a few compression artifacts throughout and it is in these flaws that I found the transfer to be less than what it could have been.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanish, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: As kinetic as the film itself is the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for Drumline is perhaps even more so. The surround speakers receive a lot of attention, specifically in the performance scenes, and they sound crisp and very well defined. Dialogue is crisp and clear with no dropouts while the .1 LFE track features solid reinforcement in the low-end area.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 27 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Antwone Fisher
10 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Charles Stone III
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Music videos for I Want a Girl Like You by Joe and Jadakiss, and Blowin Me Up by JC Chasez
Extras Review: A commentary track by director Charles Stone III leads off a nice (if slim) selection of extra features. Stone is very well spoken about his film and offers a wealth of insight into the subculture of marching bands; however, besides these nuggets of information, there is little else to learn from the track. Stone does bog down in praising the film at times, but his work certainly deserves note, so it is not as grating as it could be.

A collection of ten deleted scenes are available with optional commentary by director Stone, all worth a look. Less stellar is a nearly thirty-minute "making-of" devoted to Drumline. The piece is rather bland, with the basic interviews and clips found in so many behind-the-scenes pieces.

Finally two music videos are available as well as the theatrical trailer for Antwone Fisher.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Drumline deserves its success and so much more. Featuring a star-making performance by Nickelodeon star Nick Cannon, it is one of the undiscovered gems of 2002. Highly recommended.


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