Every week Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a movie either so bad it’s good or just downright terrible. Today: Animal House meets Bring it On meets Step Up. In other words, a movie you probably don’t want to watch.
I firmly believe in twenty or so years, Stomp the Yard: Homecoming will be seen as a classically kitschy relic of the past in much the same way films such as Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo are seen today.
In that way, the straight-to-DVD sequel to 2007’s Stomp the Yard may one day be seen as universally entertaining — even if its in a so-cheesy-its-good sort of way. As it is now, though, Stomp the Yard: Homecoming offers little drawl to fans outside of its narrow target audience. And I mean that in the least racist way possible.
Homecoming stars Collins Pennie as Chance Harris, a college student who has just recently joined the Theta Nu Theta fraternity’s step team — a group of dancers that combine the athletic prowess of a militant cheerleading team with the unbridled machismo of a football locker room.
Chance must balance his duties as a waiter in his father’s restaurant with the extremely rigorous rehearsal time needed to pull off the elaborate synchronized dance routines his step team so effortlessly performs at the drop of a hat. He also is caught in the middle of a love triangle with his current girlfriend Nikki (played by Tika Sumpter) and his ex-flame Brenda (the gorgeous Kiely Williams). With all that drama, it’s not surprising that none of the characters seem to go to any of their college classes. Despite taking place on a college campus, there is a definite lack of scenes that take place inside of a classroom.
If all that excitement wasn’t enough to keep Chance busy, he’s got a bit of trouble from his past brewing. Before he joined the step team, Chance made a bit of money on the streets competing in underground dance competitions. Much like pit bull fights or bum fights, these dance competitions attract the seedy criminal element. One such criminal is Jay (played by David Banner). Chance owes a lot of money to Jay and the hoodlum with the habit of perpetually chewing on a toothpick will stop at nothing to collect — even resorting to a classic super villain team-up when he joins forces with the leader of Theta Nu Theta’s rival step fraternity, Taz (played by Stephen “tWitch” Boss).
Other supporting cast members in the film include Pooch Hall, Keith David, Terrence J and original Stomp the Yard star Columbus Short in a cameo role. Short also produced the sequel.
Stomp the Yard: Homecoming isn’t an offensively bad film. The dance sequences are pretty impressive — even if they are doomed to age poorly as the decades progress. The film is essentially a loosely strung together story designed purely to move the movie from one step competition to the next. In that way, it works well as a time capsule for a particular dance style and cultural movement. As a movie with a substantial plot, though, the film falls pretty flat.
The movie, directed by Rob Hardy from a script by Albert Leon and Meena Payne, is in desperate need of a sense of humor. There’s a few witty jokes sprinkled throughout the movie but what Stomp the Yard: Homecoming really needed was to not take itself quite so seriously and embrace the fact that one day it will be a very cheesy film.
The movie plays out just like any other clichéd sports movie that has been released, enjoyed by its target audience, and then eventually forgotten by the average consumer. There’s drama, inspirational speeches, father/son bonding and a rival team comprised of jerks that just may have a heart of gold hidden beneath their heckling and taunts. There’s just not much to set Stomp the Yard: Homecoming apart in its genre.
Well, besides the fact that Chance’s step team performs their final dance dressed as rejects from Mortal Kombat. That’s pretty special.
If you are a fan of stepping, you will probably enjoy Stomp the Yard: Homecoming. If you know nothing about the college-based activity, you may enjoy the movie as a fast-paced look at a fascinating cultural trend. Either way, you’ll probably forget the film in the days (if not hours) after watching it.
Tags: Animal House, Columbus Short, Keith David, Mortal Kombat, Step Up