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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #102
September 29, 2009

Marching To the Beat of Your Own Drum

Drumline + Homecoming Weekend Football Game

In Drumline, Nick Cannon plays the talented, but overzealous street drummer, Devon, who is recruited to college and immediately wows the band director with his natural knack for the snare.  Devon quickly rises in the band ranks, with only one obstacle blocking his path to glory -- his classically trained nemesis, band leader Sean Taylor.  The two musicians clash constantly, Devon's rebellious nature rubs Sean the wrong way, but when Devon's Achilles heal is divulged (he can't read music) the two men have even more to squabble over.  The two drummers duke it out for the Band Director's praise, and it becomes a competition of Devon's natural talent and charisma versus Sean's perfectionism and rigid training.  The film ends with a climactic, make-you-wanna-jump-off-the-bleachers-and-dance, scene, during which Devon transforms into a real team player for the first time in his life.

Drumline gave us a whole new reason to get out to a local football game, where we soon realized how much more there is to do under the Friday Night Lights then just root for the quarterback. When the pristine turf field at our local high school got lights, night games became the Friday destination for the whole community. Even if you don't know players on the field, attending a Homecoming game is the perfect time to check out the marching band; as the less-then-passionate football fans in our group quickly realized,  there is as much action on the sidelines and in the stands as on the field. We were enthralled by the band -- impressed with the organization, unity and talent necessary to make a musical production to run smoothly. Even from our vantage point, we could easily spot the group's superstars but our sports savvy tweener pointed out that there the band star was just like the quarterback; he wouldn't look as good unless everyone on the team was doing their best, as well. Band requires just as much of a team effort as football -- and, as we mothers noted, with a lot less injury!

Film Title: Drumline
Directed By: Charles Stone III
2002, Rated PG-13, 118 minutes

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:

  • Why it's Worth It:  Nick Cannon charms us as the charismatic and rebellious marching band newbie, Devon, eager to take center-stage and show up his competitors.  When his rival learns that he can't read music, Devon is instantly humbled, and we see him sweetly transition into a man, desirous of the knowledge and basic skills for which he lacks in favor of natural talent, and we watch as two seemingly opposite individuals learn to reconcile their differences to create a musical force to be reckoned with.
  • Red Flags: Roger Ebert notes, "The love story between Devon and Laila is sweet and remarkably innocent, for a contemporary movie. They share one tender kiss, although the eagle-eyed MPAA rates the film PG-13 for "innuendo." Oh, I forgot: The MPAA also singles out "language," although this is one of the cleanest-talking urban movies in history. If this isn't a PG film in today's world, what is?"

Our Tips for Talking with your kids about this film:

  • High-School Savvy: Ask your kids what they think about the band-members in their class?  Is there a division between the athletes and band kids?  If your child plays an instrument or is in a band, find out how he or she feels about the interplay between athletes and band-members. 
  • Cinema Savvy: Many of the band-members featured in the film are real life players recruited from colleges and high-schools across the country.  The fraternity featured throughout the film is Kappa Kappa Psi, which is the national honorary band fraternity, whose real colors, flags, and chants were used in the film.
  • Music Savvy:  Erase those outdated images of band-geeks, and check out this clip of the University of Southern California marching band performing a Michael Jackson Tribute in the stadium.  Who says marching bands can't be hip?


Tune Into Your Local Marching Band at a Football Game

Discover that there's more to do at a sporting event than just root for the quarterback.

Age Recommendation: All ages

Time Allotment: 3-4 hours, depending on whether you stay for the whole game.

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Adventure:

  • What Worked for Us:  With Homecoming coming up this weekend, we plan on taking this opportunity to bring the family out for a full night of food, football, and for our main attraction, the music!  See if your kids recognize any of the songs that the marching band is playing, often  the band will use pop-culture references to keep the crowds entertained.  Another detail to note, the bands always wear intricate and elaborate costumes adorned with helmets and feathers, with Halloween sneaking up, maybe you can convince your little one to dress as a drummer!
  • Just Like in the Movies: In the film, Nick Cannon plays showboat Devon, always tying to one-up his band mates.  See if you can spot any real life hot shots standing out from the masses.  Also, keep your eyes peeled for bloopers, like someone dropping a baton or missing a dance move. We don't encourage laughing at the mistakes of others, but with the band's military like synchronization, it's a thrill to notice when someone steps out of line.  

Our tips for Extending this Adventure:
  • Google Search: Try Friday Night Lights and Your City; Or check out your local college and high school websites for information about their Friday night games.
  • Local Pride: Most high-schools, colleges, and universities have a marching band that performs at major sporting events, and sometimes there is even a local band competition showcasing the individual instrument players.  Click here for details about marching band events and expositions in your city. 
  • 'Tis The (NFL) Season: It's football season, even if your kids don't play, which means mayhem in your household and a blasting television set on Sunday and Monday nights.  Even if you hate the game, you can still enjoy the experience, by tuning in to for half-time performances by dance troops and marching bands.  Click here for the football schedule, and impress your kids with your knowledge of upcoming game nights. 
  • USPO Loves Marching Bands: The Post Office is issuing a new 44 cent stamp featuring marching bands! Click here for details.

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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