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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 John Beachem
1½ stars out of 4

Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) is a high school senior, facing a few problems. First, she has just become the new captain of her cheerleading squad. That's a problem because most of the team doesn't want her there, and she has quite a legacy to live up to since the former captain led the team to five straight championship victories. She's also having problem with her boyfriend, who just went off to college. While he's away, she starts eyeing a new student, Cliff (Jesse Bradford), whose sister, Missy (Eliza Dushku), is the latest addition to the cheerleading squad. Her last problem is her most severe. Torrance just found out that all the team's cheers have been stolen from a neighboring, urban school's team. That school, called the Clovers, is finally sending its team to the championship, and Torrance needs a new cheer so she won't be stealing. With only a few weeks till the championship, Torrance has to find a solution to all three of her problems, or quite cheerleading for good.

Did that sound just a little cheesy to everyone? I thought so too. I usually don't do this, but I thought I'd better warn everyone that this review contains at least one statement that might be viewed as a spoiler. "Bring it On" bills itself as a comedy; but since there's only one funny scene in the film, it's more akin to a... well, it has elements of an... umm. Oh forget it, I'm not sure just what "Bring it On" was supposed to be, and I'm not entirely sure Peyton Reed knew what he was trying to make either. I suppose this is just another movie which can be added to the ever growing list of teen films (a genre I detest more and more with each passing week). In other words, "Bring it On" is a cliched, predictable movie which appeals only to those who understand high school lingo (I didn't even understand high school lingo when I was in high school). If you enjoy these sorts of teen movies, you should have a blast. The rest of you will either be bored stiff or violently ill (I hadn't eaten, so I was only bored stiff). Actually, the only reason I was talked into seeing this movie was because I was curious how Bendinger would write an ending that would avoid being both cliched and politically incorrect. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at the cliched, politically correct finale. I'll give you two guesses who wins, but you're only going to need one.

I seem to be one of those strange people who can't understand this Kirsten Dunst craze. I'm sorry, but in my opinion, the girls simply cannot act. She either overdoes it, like she does in this and in the overrated "Dick"; or she under plays it like she did in "The Virgin Suicides". Her supporting cast doesn't offer much in the way of help, with nearly everyone turning in performances that never rise above mediocre. The only exception is Eliza Dushku (television's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), playing the team's newest member. While I never thought of Dushku as much of a talent when she first showed up on "Buff", I'm forced to admit that her acting abilities have improved considerably, and she turns in such a good performance in "Bring it On" that she nearly makes the film watchable. However, close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades. One good performance can seldom hold a movie afloat when surrounded by bad performances. When it's surrounded by such performances and used in a poor script, it's lost amidst the rabble.

I suppose I could be mistaken about how funny "Bring it On" actually is. There were two teenage boys a few rows behind me who were laughing so hard I thought I was going to have to call an ambulance. The thing that confused me is what they were laughing at. Tell me, do you find the word "fag" funny? I'm sure a few of you said yes. Okay, do you find the word "fag" funny after it has been used about two dozen times? If so, "Bring it On" is just the movie for you. The film's jokes never rise above that level of humor, except in the one, truly funny scene of the film. When Torrance's team calls in a special cheerleader trainer named Sparky (newcomer Ian Roberts), it leads to a hysterical five minute scene. Sparky decides to bring his own brand of cheerleading to the group, and puts the team on a special training program. This includes putting all the girls on diets because, as he says, "You girls are being thrown in the air, and you can't throw fat people as high." He also proceeds to go through each girl in the class and tell them all their faults (in great detail, when discussing the size of one girl's rear end). The scene only lasts five minutes, but you'll get more laughs in those few minutes than you will at the rest of the movie (in fact, I didn't get a single laugh from the rest of the movie).

One of the biggest problems I had with "Bring it On" was that the entire plot about the two teams competing against each other was pointless. That's the entire plot though, right? Hardly, since the Clovers team is only in about fifteen minutes of the movie. If the film had been about the new captain having to whip an out of practice team into shape, maybe there would have been something to it. Instead, by featuring a race related contest, Benedinger insures that someone is going to be offended, and to be perfectly frank, I was. When lines like "You think a white girl could have thought up moves like those?" are prominantly featured in a movie, and are then tolerated by audiences, I have to wonder at the state of Hollywood. Okay, my rant is over with. The soundtrack to "Bring it On" features, get this, cheerleading songs. In other words, you've heard it all before, but it's still appropriate to the movie. The movie runs only 98 minutes, but feels more than a bit longer. I'd recommend "Bring it On" to those of you who simply adore both teen flicks and cheerleader outfits (but not if you only like cheerleader outfits), and give the movie two and a half out of five stars.

Copyright 2000 John Beachem

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