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Bring It On

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Bring It On

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Bradford
Director: Peyton Reed
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: August 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Eliza Dushku, Gabrielle Union, Clare Kramer, Rini Bell, Tsianina Joelson, Huntley Ritter, Shamari Fears

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

"You want it. I'm hot. I'm everything you're not," cheerleader captain Torrance 'Tor' Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) leads her team in the opening cheer in Peyton Reed's BRING IT ON. Soon thereafter, Tor raises her arms to the sky and accidentally drops her top in front of a gym full of stunned onlookers. (We see her from the back.)

With this promising start, the film looked to be another sassy and raunchy spoof à la DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, which skewered the world of beauty pageants. The hilarious DROP DEAD GORGEOUS, which also starred Dunst, was one of last year's most underrated comedies. BRING IT ON, however, quickly goes downhill, taking itself too seriously and ladling on every cliché in the screenwriter's manual.

There is a good boy, Cliff Pantone (Jesse Bradford), who is smitten by Tor. She, of course, loves someone else, who is unworthy of her affection. Tor has a smart-aleck brother who is part of her sitcom family. Besides taunting her verbally, her brother jumps in the air so that he can break wind right in front of her face.

Jessica Bendinger's script is rampant with homophobic humor. "Are you trying to tell me that you speak fag?" inquires cheerleader Missy Pantone (Eliza Dushku) of her fellow cheerleader, Les (Huntley Ritter). "Oh, fluently," Les says with raised eyebrows and a slight roll of his eyes. Whenever the script can't think of anything else humorous, it punctuates its sentences with homosexual epithets, figuring its audience will always find the word "fag" funny.

The biggest cliché of all involves the poor black school, Clover, across the tracks. The story's big scandal is that Tor's wealthy school, Rancho Carne, stole their cheerleading routine from Clover, a little known fact. Rancho Carne is vying for its sixth national cheerleading championship in a row, and the Clovers look to be the squad to beat this year. Poor and willing to lose rather than accept "any handouts", the Clovers, nevertheless, appeal to an Oprah-style TV host for funds to travel to the nationals. Their mawkish letter to the host starts, "Where we're from, 'cheer' isn't a word you hear often."

There is the obligatory tryout scene in which people do just about everything but act like would-be cheerleaders. Not one of these auditions is cute or original. The movie ends with dull outtakes that are so clearly preprogrammed that they aren't really outtakes at all.

Every now and then, the story does have its moments. Flirting with Cliff in the stands at a football game, Tor is accused of having cheer sex with him. You know, like phone sex. No sooner has the writer introduced the idea than she drops it entirely.

At other times, the cheerleaders start to get a little bawdy, but the camera cuts away quickly. The few cheerleading sequences in THE REPLACEMENTS are better that all of BRING IT ON. The former are unpretentiously funny, whereas BRING IT ON seems so embarrassed by its own basic material that it has to mix in everything from vomit sequences to pseudo racial conflicts. In a movie in which little is fresh, there is one scene which doesn't feel borrowed from a dozen other pictures. With mouths full of toothpaste, Tor and Cliff compete at the sink for shiniest teeth and most vigorous spitting. Now that's certainly the start of a romance made in heaven.

BRING IT ON runs 1:35. It is rated PG-13 for sex-related material and language and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes

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