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This is a movie where more talent than necessary has been invested in a
basically aimed at entertainment-seeking adolescents, people interested in
dance routines, and a few older men who enjoy watching young girls jump
about. It follows the fortunes of an award-winning cheerleader team and
hapless football team they support.
A film about cheer leading, something that is, as far as I know, a uniquely American phenomenon, sounds pretty cheesy. The remarkable thing is that the acting and dialogue raise it a bit above the minimum required and the cheer leading dance sequences are a revelation for anyone who thought it was just about waving arms in the air and shouting support for the football team.
Gabrielle Union (10 Things I Hate About You) and Kirsten Dunst (Drop Dead Gorgeous & Virgin Suicides) were both cheerleaders at school - did this help with the authenticity? The amazing routines are quite dazzling to watch - requiring a very high level of stamina, physical fitness, athletic ability and dance technique. The overhead panning brings them almost to the level some of the old song and dance movie scenes with synchronized dancing. Synchronized dance in itself is difficult stuff, but fast paced synchronized dancing (to a great soundtrack, by the way) involving major aerial throws, difficult jive moves and lots of personality thrown in, is quite an achievement.
The film never takes itself too seriously, from the football announcer who says at the end of the match, "our next defeat is scheduled for next Tuesday", to the out-takes while the credits roll, the attitude is firmly tongue in cheek.
The script includes plenty of teenage bitching reminiscent of Clueless (adolescents often seem to show their intellectual prowess at clever, and often vicious repartee, that is all par for the course), but the acting is convincing and even the awkward issues of race and homosexuality are handled well. One cannot but help congratulate them for making a good film out of such a flimsy premise.
I thoroughly enjoyed "Bring It On". The film's brisk pacing was perfectly suited to its theme, thanks to director Peyton Reed, the writing smart, sharp, and consistently and authentically funny,(as well as, at times, genuinely thought-provoking)thanks to writer Jessica Bendinger, and the acting solid all around. I also liked "Bring It On" for what it didn't have-alot of tired, cliched boy-girl relationship stuff, and/or gratuitous sex/nudity. The opening dream/cheer sequence was a moment of sheer, brilliant comic/satiric movie magic, and later, when the professional choreographer shows up to help the Toros out, he almost steals the show. But what impressed me, perhaps, most of all about "Bring It On" was the wonderful chemistry between the two beautiful-and talented-young female leads, Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku.
"Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded," says Sparky, the modern
dance-influenced choreographer who from $2000 dollars a pop teaches
cheerleaders the mysteries of Fosse-inflected "happy fingers." Bring It On,
which was a surprise hit in the fall of 2000, clearly believes that
cheerleaders are far more than hoofers gone to seed. Despite the frequent
jokes at their expense in the film, Bring It On shows cheerleaders
are spirited, athletic, graceful, and most importantly, relevant to the 21st
Century. Colorfully shot, attractively cast, and snappily written, Bring It
On is hardly a great movie, but it's perfectly appealing for most people and
I'd guess that the millions of cheerleaders and former cheerleaders
nationwide will get a lot more out of it.
The plot is simple. It's like Rocky. Or Varsity Blues. Or any other sports movie you've ever seen. New captain of the five time national cheerleading champions Toros, Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) is shocked when the new girl on the squad (Eliza Dushka), a gymnast, tells her that all of the routines that made the squad famous were stolen from an inner city school in East Compton, two hours up the coast. Determined to prove that they can do it themselves, the Toros go through a fairly short journey to self-empowerment. There's a pounding bass line, lots of teens in short skirts, some fun flipping, and a lesson about being true to yourself and believing in others.
The film also takes on any number of myths about cheerleaders. Are male cheerleaders all gay, or do they just like grabbing girls' rears? The answer, of course is a little from column A and a little from Column B. Are cheerleaders all airheads? Well, the issue of whether or not these girls go to class is done away with in two minutes at the beginning of the film. From that point on, education, books, and homework are never mentioned. Any occasional signs of intelligence are held up to ridicule, though these "sweater puppets" are all quick with a witty retort, so they must have something going on upstairs. And finally, is cheerleading a sport? Well, this film comes out firmly on the side of yes.
For all of its verve, Jessica Bendinger's script is too reductive for the movie to be taken very seriously. The white girls are obviously upper scale and spoiled. Naturally the white girls don't have any sass at first and naturally they borrow it from their African-American neighbors. The black girls are supposed to be poor. Not that that's really depicted in this day-glo colored world.
In fact, through the wonders of Hollywood Central casting, the squad from East Compton actually looked even more racially homogenous than the "Buffys" from San Diego. This is an inner city high school that has a cheerleading squad featuring a dozen girls with identical light complexions and straight hair. The racial assumptions at work here would be offensive if the movie placed any premium on reality. Instead, as directed by Peyton Reed, everything is colorful, glossy, and easy on the eyes. The intricate cheerleading routines are mostly shot from strange angles or awkward close-ups to make it impossible to tell if the cast is actually doing any of the cheering stunts at all.
When Kirsten Dunst makes good small movies (see The Virgin Suicides or Dick), nobody goes to them. So I suppose it's fitting that this movie was a smash. She's always an entertaining screen presence and for now she's still young enough that it isn't ridiculous for her to keep playing high school characters. How her career progresses as she matures remains to be seen. The rest of the cast seems like they were picked from the set of a WB series. Now since I kind of like a number of WB series, I don't mean this as an insult in any way. The Warner Brothers network has proven a good training ground for attractive young women to read catchy dialogue and everybody in Bring It On seems very skilled with the zingers. And as the aforementioned Sparky the choreographer, Ian Roberts is just hilarious and his scene is easily the funniest part of the movie.
In the end, Bring It On is fairly satisfying. It's also amusing to note the strange directions that this movie is able to stretch the limits of the PG-13 rating in terms of language and certain forms of implied sexuality. But that's neither here nor there. Bring it On gets a not-to-be-ashamed-of 6/10 from me.
This movie was extremely enjoyable and I recommend it. The characters are
not annoying for the most part, and I especially enjoyed seeing new faces
Elisa Dushku (Missy) and Jesse Bradford (Cliff). They have screen presence
and should be in front of the camera for many years to come, especially
Elisa, who is really very beautiful. When you look at her, there's so much
there, unlike most actresses whose faces do not say anything. You can tell
there is alot going on in her mind just by her face.
The screenplay is intelligent and very funny and aside from a slow stretch or two, I really liked the movie. It is not like "Clueless" or anything else, which of course is a good thing.
One of my favorite scenes is when Cliff and Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) are brushing their teeth. Its probably a throw-away scene and there is no dialogue, but it was really great, for me at least.
Interestingly enough, one of the most tired and boring cliches in both film and high school has been the subject of two genuinely enjoyable, if fluffy, movies in less than a year. I speak of course, about cheerleaders and both 'Bring It On' and 'Sugar and Spice'. But while 'Sugar and Spice' was campy and surreal, 'Bring It On' is a self-consciously serious movie advancing the idea of the cheerleader as athlete. While this idea is an honest and accurate one, it's one that audiences will only take so far. Cheerleaders may indeed be finer athletes than those on the sports teams they cheer for- I'd believe it, although I've never been a cheerleader and only rarely watch them on ESPN. I do know, though, that 'sissy, girly' activities are very frequently more difficult than 'tough, manly' activities, but try telling the boys that- or a movie audience. No matter how many big-budget and/or 'true story' movies are made wherein football is a metaphor for life or boxing is an affirmation of the greatness of the human spirit, even the most fascinating stories about sports like gymnastics or figure skating are strictly television movie-of-the-week fodder. In this atmosphere, you cannot make a cheerleading movie serious. You have to make it a joke. The smart folks behind Bring It On, though, realized that if they could strike a certain balance they could fulfill expectations but also get their point across. So they filled their flick with cute, peppy girls like Kirsten Dunst- always a delight, and well-cast here as a golden girl with a conscience- and snappy, irreverent jokes. They have a PG-13 locker room scene and a bikini carwash. They also have broken bones and high stress- very real factors in the lives of competitive cheerleaders. The squad is co-ed, and we get to know two of these curious, maligned creatures commonly known as male cheerleaders. One of them *is* gay- and an extremely well-adjusted, likable and "non-faggy" one, at that. The other is straight, and as horny as any frat boy in Animal House. We also have a tough girl named Missy transferring from L.A., along with her cute brother Cliff and the news that the Toro squad's cheers are not "100% original", as they had believed. Unfortunately for Kirsten's character Torrance and her Rancho Carne Toros, their ex-captain stole all their prize-winning routines from an East Compton squad (which are perhaps overly rude, even given the circumstances), that will be going to Nationals for the first time. So what's a cheerleading squad to do, except experience various pratfalls on the way to coming up with their own routine and competing and learning something about valuing your own strengths? It's better than it sounds, surprisingly- and refreshingly- enough. As for macho posturing at sports movies, the fact that this was a sueprise hit and 'Sugar and Spice' was not might just be a sign that there are audiences too smart to believe that any movie about female athletes must automatically be completely silly. What a surprising- and refreshing- change.
This film does not aspire to be more than it is. Accepted for what it is, BRING IT ON is a perfect 10.
The quest here is the national cheerleader championships held each year in Orlando, Florida. In real life, the young competitors are tiny, thin-legged kids with braces. In BRING IT ON, all of the cheerleaders are fully developed amazingly nice looking So-Cal starlets. The result is eye candy perfection!
BRING IT ON has the right mix of good-natured fun and old fashioned sex appeal. A bikini car wash. Pajama sleep-overs. Cheerleader pom-poms every place! Each actress's smile lights up the darkest of nights. Pure American fun.
Speaking of fun, please don't miss the ending credits. BRING IT ON is an instant modern day classic that stands up to repeated viewings. Highly recommended for what it is.
I am not going to make any excuses. This was an excellent film for all ages.
So many of the positive reviews I have seen prior to this one have had to
make disclaimers (e.g. yes, it was childish...) but I will not do so. I am
going to be confident in the intelligence of anyone reading this to
understand that the quality of a film always has to be taken in the context
it was meant to be viewed in. Bring It On is an excellent farce making fun
of The Stereotypical Cheerleader. At the same time, the characters were very
real, well played, and easy to empathize with. The movement (dance?) was
lots of fun to watch. I also felt that the characters were much more
realistic than many teenage characters are usually portrayed in film - more
sarcastic and intelligently witty and sexual than usual. I think this is
good, because many films give the impression that all teenagers are naive
and childish, when in fact this is not necessarily the case. I must admit
though that I couldn't help thinking that certain things had to happen the
way they did for the sake of Political Correctness, and that is
disappointing, but from the filmmakers perspective understandable. It was
good to see a little bit of gay-friendliness in the film, which is rare to
find in any films.
Overall, I thought it was a lot of fun and I left the film feeling good!
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
'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).
Torrance Shipman(Kirsten Dunst)becomes the new captain of the high school
cheer leading team that takes pride in winning competition championships
year after year. She discovers that the cheers and routines for the last
several years have been stolen from another school's squad. Torrance relies
on a reluctant gymnast named Missy(Eliza Dushku)to convince the cheer team
to learn new material to take to the next state competition. What a shame it
is that the football team is so awful that the schools pride is in the
cheerleaders. This is an interesting eyeful, but actually just another
vehicle for the enticing Miss Dunst.
Fine support from:Pua Kapiolani, Tsianina Joelson, Clare Kramer and Nicole Bilderback. If you have a cheerleader fetish, you will think this romp deserves an Oscar. Nonetheless enjoyable.
I actually only went to see it since it appeared at the time it would be the
number one movie in the country. But much to my surprise it wasn't all that
bad. Cheesy? Yes. Bad dialogue? Absolutely. Fun? I thought it was. It didn't
take itself so seriously that it was horrible, and it took itself seriously
enough that it was fun watching these kids cheerlead their little hearts
The plot... well the 5 time national champion cheerleaders from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego (they're the Toros) find out that all their award winning cheers were actually stolen from the cheerleaders at East Compton High (they're the Clovers). So now if they want to keep their championship dreams alive, they need to come together as a team and create their own, original cheer, and cheer like they've never cheered before. Lead by their captain Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst), the Toros make it back to the national championships, and go head to head with the Clovers to see who really is the best darn cheerleaders in the country. Yes, the plot is cheesy, but I think that was going to be a very obvious thing from the beginning. The movie is about cheerleading after all. Not that I have anything against cheerleaders, but a movie that centers around the trials and tribulations of cheerleaders is not going to have a serious and deep story. The dialogue was appropriately bad and yes, cheesy enough to make you wish that it were serious and deep. However when you have the bright, peppy and beautiful Dunst in the lead, how can you not smile and cheer right along with all of them?
Also along for the ride, one of my personal favorite actresses, the not-yet-but-soon-to-be-popular Eliza Dushku, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. In my book, she's right up there as far as looks go. She plays Missy, the hardened transfer student who joins the cheerleading squad only because the school doesn't have a gymnastics program. Making her start off as a bad-ass, then saying she was a gymnast didn't feel right to me. But she comes around pretty quickly and she and Torrance become fast friends. Also, since this is a teen dramedy, Torrance and her off to college boyfriend have problems, and Missy's brother Cliff is right there to help Torrance out with all her cheerleader angst. OK, so obviously the only reasons any guy would go see this movie is because either his girlfriend dragged him along, or because he wants to see a bunch of girls in cheerleader outfits, and tight clothing. And really, can you blame him? The girls are attractive, and putting them into various stages of dress, and undress, certainly can't hurt the grosses. Locker room scenes, bikini car wash scenes, and of course the cheerleading scenes were worth the price of admission for me (which of course was only $3.75, one of the perks of living in suburbia).
The soundtrack was pretty cool, and the dance/cheerleading sequences were actually quite well done. And the fact that the movie never wavered from its position that to these girls (and some guys) cheerleading was very important. To a majority of us who have never cheerleaded, it's easy to say that it's not anything to get worked up about, but I look at it like if you said that to a football player in a Texas high school, you'd probably be shot on sight. Cheerleading is important to the cheerleaders, and that's what this movie was about. Cheerleading. And hot girls in cheerleading outfits. Sorry, I am a guy afterall.
So overall, yes Bring It On is cheesy with some over the top dialogue. But it also has some good music, some good cheerleading scenes, and of course, it has the girls. It's not something that is going to be heard over the microphone at next years Academy Awards, but I thought it was just good summer fun.
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