In any case, a young, insanely charming and handsome Harlem street drummer, Devon (Nick Cannon of "Men in Black II"), wins a scholarship to a southern university and its popular but waning marching band. There he clashes with the music director (Orlando Jones "Evolution") and the band's lead drummer. Devon is the kind of kid who covers insecurity with attitude and is prone to outbursts of rampant individuality. Frankly, he's annoying, too. But, because this is a highly formulaic film, he learns a lesson (dubious though it is) about honor and loyalty and that previously mentioned concept of teamwork. He also falls in love with a sexy, sophisticated southern belle cheerleader (Zoe Saldana of "Center Stage") and everything turns out well in the end.
Orlando Jones gives a surprisingly pithy and contained performance one would like to see in the service of weightier material; Zoe is beautiful and delightful in a sweet though obligatory role; and the young Nick Cannon might be a star in the making. Director Charles Stone III ("Paid in Full") may want to consult some of the classics should he decide to helm another film that depends so much on blocking for photography as a film about marching bands does; a little knowledge of Busby Berkeley would have been a great help. And a movie about drums ought to be felt as much as seen. Much of the driving force of "Drumline" is simply lost in the mix. Starring Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones. Directed by Charles Stone III. Written Tina Gordon Chism and Shawn Schepps. Produced by Timothy M. Bourne, Wendy Finerman and Jody Gerson. A Fox 2000 release. Drama. Rated PG-13 for innuendo and language. Running time: 118 min