A camp look at competitive high school cheerleading
The Bottom Line
I was more impressed with the two-minute trailer for Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous
The Full Review
Bring It On, directed by Peyton Reed, has a few bright moments, but in keeping with the slew of uninspired teen flicks that have raced across screens this past year (Boys and Girls, Down to You, The In Crowd, Drive Me Crazy, Gossip), it offers little that will keep it from slipping into the realm of the forgettable.
The film stars Kirsten Dunst (The Virgin Suicides, Interview With a Vampire, Little Women) as Torrance Shipman, the newly anointed captain of the Rancho Carne High School Toro cheerleading squad. Torrance discovers that the Toro’s previous captain, Big Red (picture Tori Spelling on steroids), had been cheating her way to the team’s past five national cheerleading championships by stealing the stellar routines of the rival East Compton Clovers. Distraught over the fact that her life as a cheerleader has been one big lie, Torrance is determined to win this year’s competition with an entirely original routine. That won’t be easy, however, because the Clovers, led by their fiery captain Isis, played by (Gabrielle Union (Ten Things I Hate About You, She’s All That), now get to apply their own brand of cheerleading to those award-winning routines.
Bring It On opens with a highly amusing cheerleading routine that sets the tone of the film as pure camp. The scene is lead by Kirsten Dunst, who delivers the cheer (“I’m sexy, I’m cute, I’m popular to boot…”) with so much enthusiasm that she makes the cheerleading characters played by Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri on Saturday Night Live seem spiritless by comparison. A few other entertaining moments do flare up during Bring It On – most notably the cheerleading squad’s attempts to work with a tyrannical choreographer and the close of the movie which mixes humorous film outtakes with the actors lipsynching to a remake of Toni Basil’s “Mickey.” But ultimately, the film’s screenwriter, Jessica Bendinger, has created little more than Clueless with pep but little smarts.
Perhaps the film’s biggest shortcoming is its conspicuously anticlimactic ending. Torrance and the rest of the Toro cheerleaders fail to deliver on their pledge to produce a cheer that is truly fresh and original. Why, for instance, did Torrance not find inspiration in the punk-rock love song written for her by Cliff (Jesse Bradford – Romeo & Juliet, King of the Hill), her cynical love interest? After all, Torrance was shown excitedly dancing around on her bed – pom poms in hand – as she was quickly swept up in the energetic pace of the music. This lead me to believe that I might actually get to see the Torors test their moves against some revved up guitar riffs, rather than cheerleading’s standard techno-pop garbage. Unfortunately, I was wrong.
It’s a shame that Bendinger didn’t reach a bit more with her script. Overall, the acting in Bring It On was quite strong, with particularly enjoyable performances from Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union, and Eliza Dushku (True Lies, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) as Missy Pantone, the contemptuous rookie on the Toro cheerleading squad. This cast, coupled with a more inspired script might have enabled Bring It On to reach true “surprise hit of the summer” status.
By: Craig Ettinger
Outtakes during closing credits
Interaction between Torrance and Cliff
Scenes in which the highly acrobatic aspects of competitive cheerleading were displayed
Some funny lines: (e.g., “Cheerleaders are dancers that have gone retarded”)
Too much cutesy cheerleader-speak (e.g, “This is not a democracy. It’s a cheer-ocracy!”)
Useless “pain-in-the-ass” younger brother character (you’ve seen him before in many other teen flicks and he wasn’t funny in those either)
Poor acting in non-lead roles (this, coupled with sub-par production quality of film made it seem, at times, like I was watching an afterschool special)
Nudity: None (some girls locker room underwear shots)