It took me a good hour before I realized that this movie wasn't one long 7-up commercial. Orlando Jones is the biggest name in the thing, though he plays only a supporting role as Dr. Lee, a bandmaster at Atlanta A&T, where a victory in the annual college band-off (bands compete for band supremacy and yearly bragging rights that destroy the self-esteem of any school that hasn't won, forcing them to work all year long on choreography and orchestration at the expense of all else, like eating) is cause for deification.
Dr. Jones, desperate for a victory and job security, personally recruits a troublesome youngster from Harlem. His name is Devon (Nick Cannon) and he's the best drummer anybody has ever seen. Unfortunately, he's a cocky ass, which means that the film spends an eternity dragging out the inevitable "team-player" theme. Devon immediately has a problem with the student leader on the drumline, Sean (Leonard Roberts), because Devon thinks he's a better drummer and has no respect for the idea of leadership or togetherness. He challenges Sean at every opportunity. He also immediately goes after the hottest-looking woman on campus, Laila (Zoe Saldana), who's smitten with his brashness and overlooks the fact that nobody else even likes the guy. Given the parade of plot conventions thus far, it's nothing short of a miracle that Laila doesn't turn out to be Sean's girlfriend or former girlfriend.
Did I mention there's a lot of drumming in this film? If you've ever been involved in an orchestra or band, you know that drummers are considered the losers of the entire organization. They're even bigger wussies than the tuba players. All they do is bang a stick up and down. The other musicians often mutter under their breath that they're being paid the same as the guy who's sitting on his ass waiting for that one moment where he bangs the cymbals together. When the percussionists aren't looking, the violinists and horn sections often sneak back to their lockers and dip their underwear in acid.
Now, we get to endure a whole movie about these people, whose attitude is embodied in Devon. Here's the film's big message: Screw everyone else. Nice film.
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