In 2002, two rival Olympic ice skaters were stripped of their gold medals and permanently banned from men's single competition. Presently, however, they've found a loophole that will allow them to qualify as a pairs team.
Taken aback by his mother's wedding announcement, a young man returns home in an effort to stop her from marrying his old high school gym teacher, a man who made high school hell for generations of students.
Billy Bob Thornton,
Seann William Scott,
The Toro cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego has got spirit, spunk, sass and a killer routine that's sure to land them the national championship trophy for the sixth year in a row. But for newly-elected team captain Torrance, the Toros' road to total cheer glory takes a shady turn when she discovers that their perfectly-choreographed routines were in fact stolen from the Clovers, a hip-hop squad from East Compton, by the Toro's former captain. While the Toros scramble to come up with a new routine, the Clovers, led by squad captain Isis have their own problems - coming up with enough money to cover their travel expenses to the championships. With time running out and the pressure mounting, both captains drive their squads to the point of exhaustion: Torrance, hell bent on saving the Toros' reputation, and Isis more determined than ever to see that the Clovers finally get the recognition that they deserve. But only one team can bring home the title, so may the... Written by
This delightful comedy uses its ostensible theme of cheerleading rivalry to comment on its own genre, the teen movie. Given a genuinely exciting reinvention by 'Clueless', and reaching a peak with the likes of 'American Pie' and '10 Things I hate about you', the genre is in danger, as all successful genres are, of exchanging its wit, visual exuberance, engaging playing and agreeable sentiment for cash-hungry formulae and all-round laziness.
'Bring it on' falls into neither of these traps, but is aware that its genre is exhausting itself, and raises a number of pertinent issues. do filmmakers, like the Toro cheerleaders, continue their success by ripping off others' tricks? Is it possible to be original any more, or is the best we can hope for a clever spin on older, wider sources (this, of course, applies to cinema and all art in general)? Most pertinent, and 'Road Block' had already touched on this, is it time we jettisoned the toothy, white, middle-class young, and their oh-so-harrowing traumas, and allow a more representative teen demographic into the tacitly racist genre?
'Bring it on' may not entirely escape this last accusation - the black cheerleaders have no real humanity of their own, we are not given the same insight into their backgrounds and personalities as the white girls, beyond catch-all under-privilege. They are a mirror in which the whites can examine their complacency or flaws and correct them - literally so in many scenes, where the whites 'reflect' the blacks' movements, and the latter distort them in return, thereby commenting on them.
However, this touchy racial subject matter has a major benefit on the narrative arc. The plot is the old stand-by: a team of underdogs against the odds, triumph against circumstances and expectations. This would be tiresomely formulaic, except there are two teams in the film with equal claims on our attention and sympathies - it would be unthinkable for a Hollywood film today to have poor black people lose against pampered whites, but every stylistic decision - the humanising of characters; the rites of passage and socialising-of-misfits narrative; screen-time etc. - favours these whites. This creates a genuine tension, added to little asides (such as Torrence's brother's T-shirt, 'Cheerleading = Death') that make a familiar narrative interesting, problematic and unpredictable.
This is not to deny the familiar pleasures of the genre - the beautiful, clothes-shy young stars (the film gets to leer and satirise such leering!); the witty dialogue and bitchiness; the screenplay sharp about traditional issues of power and community; revelatory, stylised dreams and memories; the unforced energy. 'Bring it on' is a rare instance in the last few decades of a musical, and the various cheerleading routines are exhilerating and inventive, revealing to many a hitherto hidden purpose of a much maligned group, while still retaining the right to tongue-hollow that cheek. (AND a Shakespearean finale, where the actors come back after the curtain, and show us it was all play).
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