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Review: “Stomp the Yard: Homecoming”

By Joe Leydon

September 28, 2010

A diverting made-for-homevid sequel that will likely please most of its predecessor’s fans.

It’s not quite as fleet-footed as “Stomp the Yard,” the 2007 sleeper about intense competitions between step-dancing teams from traditionally African-American colleges, but “Stomp the Yard: Homecoming” is a diverting made-for-homevid sequel with a similarly effective mix of familiar melodrama and dazzling dance sequences. Pic will likely please most of its predecessor’s fans, and rentals and sell-throughs should be brisk enough to encourage additional installments in an ongoing franchise.

Columbus Short, billed here as executive producer, returns as DJ, the scrappy underdog who led his fraternity team to success in the previous pic. But DJ serves more as an occasionally glimpsed elder statesman in this follow-up, while the focus shifts to Chance Harris (Collins Pennie), another undisciplined dynamo who must learn the value of teamwork.

After incurring the anger of a thuggish gambler in an underground dance-off, Chance is hard-pressed to concentrate on an upcoming step-dance tournament. But despite sporadic clashes with his anxious diner-owning dad (Keith David) and supportive but jealous girlfriend (Tika Sumpter), he finds the inner strength to bust his best smooth moves while stepping with his frat brothers.

Cornball contrivances and cliche-ridden dialogue in the script by Albert Leon and Meena Payne occasionally distract from the fun. (Amazed that the villainous gambler wants him to throw the step-dance competition, Chance marvels, “Ya’ll bettin’ on steppin’?”) But the performances are engagingly sincere, production values are respectably slick and Chuck Maldonado’s choreography makes for some aptly explosive terpsichorean displays.

Helmer Ron Hardy keeps the pace pleasantly brisk — “Homecoming” is almost a full half- hour shorter than the original “Stomp” — and leaves the door wide open for future sequels showcasing other high-stepping underdogs.