In the holiday film, the Whitfield siblings come home for the holidays, catch up, and get down. And it mirrors how the film’s writer-director, Preston A. Whitmore II, celebrated as well.
“This is just something that we naturally did with my family and many other African-American families,” he says. “You have dinner, you watch television, and then you turn on the music and clear out for the soul train.”
And that’s exactly what Idris Elba, Regina King & Co. do — to Kool & the Gang’s “Get Down on It” — about 20 minutes into the film.
“On the day we were shooting it, everybody was just standing around,” recalls Whitmore. “So I began moving furniture [to make room for the dance train], the actors started helping, and we had a great time.”
According to Whitmore, former Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper was sitting next to him while shooting that scene, insisting he had never seen anything like it and that they had to find a way to use it for the film’s ending. So they shot a second dance scene, this time with the cast breaking character and freestyle dancing to Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”
“You’re not going to sit there and tell Columbus Short and Chris Brown how to dance,” Whitmore says with a laugh of the Stomp the Yard duo. “Everybody just came down and kind of did their own thing.” —Derek Lawrence