A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 85 – Bring It On

Bring It On – May 24th, 2010

There are so many reasons why I shouldn’t like this movie. It’s full of embarrassing moments and confrontations, it’s cheesy as all get out, it’s got more than a couple of jokes that are in such poor taste they make me do a full body cringe. It’s about cheerleading. Now, granted, I do enjoy gymnastics, and I’m not going to go slagging off on championship-level cheerleading.

The bizarre thing is, I can’t help but chuckle at a lot of this movie. I’ll stop on it when I’m flipping channels. I’ll go back to it after a commercial break. But I think that kind of explains it. When I’m watching it on television, I can flip away during the awkward and embarrassing bits and just tune back for the non-cringey humor and the cheerleading routines with the jumping and tumbling and bouncing and tossing and kicking and go team go! But this is for the project. We own the DVD (this is my fault, as I bought this and a few others in retaliation for the handful of movies Andy bought that I’m actively dreading) so we have to watch it all the way through, no fast-forwarding. And that means watching through the revelation that our heroes and heroines have unwittingly been using stolen routines, and the confrontation between them and the team their former captain stole from. It means watching as they scramble for a new routine and end up with a bizarre choreographer who’s sold the same routine to at least six other teams. It means watching every line of awkward dialogue and every bad joke to get to the decent and fun bits.

There are fun bits. I promise. You have to like cheese. Or rather, Cheez-Whiz. It’s pretty aerated. But if you enjoy fluffy silliness, it’s got some funny moments. I’ve got a fondness for the B plot, but that might be because the romantic interest is played by Jesse Bradshaw and I’m just amused to see him in something that isn’t Hackers. Quick plot rundown (this won’t take long, promise): Torrance is the new captain of the Rancho Carne High cheerleading squad and determined to maintain the team’s winning streak at the National Cheerleading Championships. Except the new member of the squad, transfer student Missy, recognizes their routines as belonging to a team from Compton that hasn’t ever been able to fund a trip to Regionals. With her cheerleader boyfriend away at college and the former captain out of the picture and the team at a loss for what to do, Torrance is on her own to come up with a solution. Of course her team makes Nationals, as does the Compton team, and the movie ends with a climactic cheer-off where the best team wins. The B plot involves Torrance’s boyfriend cheating on her and Torrance falling for Missy’s brother, Cliff, who is all anti-cheer/punk rock/apathetic/late 90s stereotype. Missy, Cliff and Torrance have some good scenes, which is another reason I like the B plot. Also, Missy is played by Eliza Dushku, and having a Buffy regular and one of the secondary cast members from Hackers in a cheerleading movie makes me laugh and laugh.

Anyhow, this movie makes fun of itself, so I don’t feel too bad joining in. The whole thing with the choreographer is played up for laughs that I’m sure are heartier coming from people who’ve done actual cheerleading and dealt with choreographers like him. So much of the movie is played directly to the target audience: teenage girls who’ve done cheerleading or at least know enough about it to recognize every satirical poke. The thing is, it’s also got Missy, who joins the team because she’s a frustrated gymnast in a school with no gymnastics team. Where Torrance and the team represent all the viewers who know the ins and outs of cheerleading, Missy guides us outsiders through the baffling world of spirit sticks, hairspray and cheerocracies.

Really, though, the best reason to watch the movie is the end. Come in after the Regionals, skip the whole bit about Torrance’s boyfriend not believing in her and watch the team prepare for Nationals, then watch the competition and the closing credits. Sure, it means you miss Missy’s try-out for the squad, and the bizarre toothbrushing scene with Torrance and Cliff trying to out-spit each other. But it’s fairly clear of wince-worthy moments, it’s got fun cheerleading routines to watch, and then the closing credits have some bloopers and the entire cast dancing and lip-syncing to Oh Mickey.

May 24, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

Bring It On

May 24, 2010

Bring it On

When we embarked on this movie-a-day thing we realized that a very large portion of our collection was purchased by me and for me. My wife felt that there needed to be some counter-balance. Some movies that I would never in a million years have bought. Like, for example, Bring it On.

I definitely never would have voluntarily watched a campy teen movie about cheerleaders. So it’s kind of difficult to review it. Not only is it not from any of the genres I regularly view (it’s certainly not sci-fi action or musical or animated children’s film or serious drama or… well anything I’d watch) but it’s pretty much part of the one genre you’re least likely to find me watching: a sports movie. It’s all about the long road to the cheerleading championships and that big final performance. (I suppose there’s a kind of genre that’s all about the final amazing performance when the team pulls together and everything finally goes right. Like Hamlet 2, The Marc Pease Experience or Waiting for Guffman.)

At the start of the movie Torrence (Spidey’s girlfriend Kirsten Dunst, who we’ll be seeing again in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) takes over the captain position in the five-time-champion Rancho Carne Torros. And of course things go all wrong. First she has to quickly find a replacement for one of her squad who gets injured, which brings proto-emo gymnast Missy, who has just arrived in this school and doesn’t really get why cheerleading is such a big deal (here portrayed by local favorite Eliza Dushku, who will always be Faith in my mind.) Then Torrence discovers that all the cheers her squad has been winning with all these years have been stolen from another team, the Compton Clovers. So they have no cheers and a fractured squad full of backstabbing bitches. How are they going to make it to the nationals?

I enjoyed the movie well enough. It’s clearly camp. Torrence’s boyfriend at the start of the movie seems to be channeling Jim Carrey’s character Wiploc from Earth Girls Are Easy. There are lines like the famous “This isn’t a democracy – it’s a cheerocracy.” There are constant jokes about the supposed homosexuality of the male cheerleaders. (One of whom IS gay, which leads to one of the better bits of the movie.) The routines are impressive in a kind of Hollywood way – the frenetic editing and constant jump cuts make it hard to really see the performances – probably a symptom of having to insert the actors into the cheer routine footage.

But what I liked most about this movie is that it’s got a pretty clever subversive twist to it. Yes, it’s a tale of the underdog team that finally wins against all odds – but not in the way you might expect. I don’t want to spoil it for anybody who hasn’t seen the movie (because I hate spoilers) but it almost feels like there are two different movies going on here. It’s as though somebody made a typical sports underdog movie but pointed the camera the wrong way. It’s a clever bit of misdirection that added a dimension to the film which tickled me.

I’ll bet you weren’t expecting that!

May 24, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , | Leave a comment