Can a single strength overshadow and reconstitute an otherwise mediocre film?

Despite the numerous plot problems that plague “Stomp The Yard,” the film showcases some of the finest and flashiest choreography of recent dance movies. Like in “Step Up” and “You Got Served,” it makes for incredible viewing.

DJ (Columbus Short, “Accepted”) has it rough. At home in Los Angeles, he’s a gifted and well-admired street dancer, but his talents tend to get him into trouble. After a brawl erupts following DJ’s victory in a local dance-off, he moves to Atlanta for a fresh start. Using the connections provided by his gruff uncle (Harry Lennix, “Ray”), DJ narrowly escapes his criminal record and enrolls in school.

Truth University is one of those lovely movie colleges where ages are vague, alcohol is easily accessible and the main character overcomes adversity to do well in history 101. In the midst of all this generic university strife, DJ’s dance chops get him recruited by two rival fraternities, one obviously good and the other even more obviously evil.

Ultimately, the former triumphs, and DJ joins Theta Nu Theta’s esteemed tradition of stomp dancing – a quick, athletic and showy dance style that the frat values as much as its brotherhood.

It’s not long before the opposing frat starts presenting problems for DJ – or, of course, before a romance emerges. But DJ repeatedly proves himself a formidable dancer, and those skills alone are enough for the hurdles of exams and big competitions thrown his way. Lame plot echoes of “Drumline” are notable here, but in “Stomp the Yard,” they’re almost forgivable.

For one thing, the use of rapid montage moves the film along at a quick pace, enlivening the storyline’s familiarity. As disorienting as the style may sometimes get, it’s a much-needed refresher, especially when the film gets down to business: dancing.

A great mix of interpretive dance and performance art, stomping is more electrifying than any $20 million action set piece. It’s absolutely impossible to understand how some of these dancers move their bodies, defying conventions of human speed, flexibility and mobility. When DJ and his brother prop themselves on one forearm to mock their opponent, it’s hard not to stare in awe. When the boys of Theta get down at about 50 moves a second, the lyricism in their step is enviable to even the most visual of films.

In “Stomp the Yard,” the very presence of stomp dancing compensates for everything else happening in the film. Sure, it’s garishly over-cut, the story’s arc is as tired as they come and at times it feels like yet another backward step in the recent proliferation of urban-targeting films.

But they sure can stomp.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Stomp the Yard
At the Showcase and Quality 16
Screen Gems

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