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BRING IT ON

Review by Andrew Manning (8/00)

Release: 2000, Universal
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford
Director: Peyton Reed
MPAA Rating: [PG-13] sexuality, language
Genre: Comedy


May the best moves win...



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SUMMARY

The cheerleaders of Rancho Carne High, fronted by newly appointed squad captain Torrance Shipman (Dunst), battle the squads of other schools to defend their five year title of national champions. But the team is thrown into chaos when they discover their cheers have been stolen from their top rivals, East Compton High.

THE SUDDEN RUNDOWN

Bring It On takes cheerleading a bit too seriously at times, but still manages to be fun and entertaining.

WHAT'S GOOD

The good thing about these brainless teen flicks is that you never go into them expecting much--and with that sort of attitude, it's easy to be entertained by the raw appeal of eye candy, high school antics, and a lame plot that tries to make cheerleading out to be the most important thing in the world.

The story revolves around the Toros, the cheerleaders of Rancho Carne High in San Diego. When their captain, a bitchy redhead known as "Big Read," graduates from high school, she passes the baton of leadership to Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst). Then a new girl named Missy (Eliza Dushku) moves into town, joins the cheerleading squad, and informs them that their moves are ripped right from the playbook of the cheerleaders of East Compton High. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem, except it seems Rancho Carne and East Compton are destined to face off in the national cheerleading championships. And new captain Torrance actually has a conscience, and realizes stealing moves ain't that cool. So she tries her best to whip her team into shape with a new routine in order to prepare them for the ultimate competition, which will take place in Florida. Yes, the story is sort of weak, and glorifies cheerleading a bit too much to be taken seriously, but there's a lot of fun elements that redeem this movie.

Bring It On, unlike most teen comedies of the last ten years, indulges in a good deal of T&A: a short but sweet girls' locker room scene, a car wash conducted by a bevy of bikini-clad cheerleaders in order to raise money, and Kirsten Dunst and her crew strutting their stuff in bare-midriff outfits. These are elements not found in high school comedy flicks that try to be about something, like Can't Hardly Wait.

Backing up the parade of young flesh in Bring It On is its comedy. Thanks to the presence of all the male cheerleaders, there are the unavoidable gay jokes; and Kirsten Dunst's little brother in the movie (who looks like a ten-year old Kevin Bacon) adds some sibling rivalry and basic fart jokes to the mix. Some of the movie's funnier scenes include: a cheerleader falls down during practice and lands herself in a neckbrace for the whole movie; a flamboyant, artsy-fartsy male choreographer tries to teach the Toros his prissy dance routine, but not without criticizing the team to no end--he declares that "cheerleaders are dancers gone retarded" and tells a pretty girl that her ass needs to lose weight before it makes its own website; there's a running joke that RCH's football team is a bunch of losers who are second to their cheerleaders, prompting a rival football team to taunt them by saying that the male cheerleaders will be "scamming for their squirrel" after the game.

Adding to Bring It On's feel good mood is a fair amount of dance music--both the rap and bubblegum pop varieties. The movie opens with a peppy, spunky cheer song that's insidiously happy and catchy, and ends with the entire cast dancing to a cover version of "Mickey" over the closing credits.

As an added bonus, I liked the implication that the guy who listens to The Cult and The Ramones steals the girl away from the guy who listens to Sugar Ray and Matchbox 20.

Having come a long way since her days as the little girl in Interview with the Vampire, Kirsten Dunst has developed into quite the saucy young vixen. And Eliza Dushku, best known for her role as Faith, the evil Slayer on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, plays a considerably different character than the dark asskicker we are accustomed to seeing her as--however, her newfound image comes across like Elizabeth Berkley in Showgirls, so I'm not sure that's a good thing.

Bring It On may be brainless fun, but at least it's fun. And with the current barrage of disappointments from Hollywood, you could do a lot worse...


WHAT'S BAD

God, what is up with the names in this movie? Since when are "Torrance" and "Carver" chick names? It's a sad day when the Dawson-syndrome begins spreading to female characters!

Bizarre monikers aside, the only thing you really have to work at accepting is how seriously the characters take cheerleading. In what may be the single most emotive scene of her entire acting career, Kirsten Dunst actually starts crying hard about her short-skirted profession. And on more than one occasion, you'll think these chicks need a serious reality check. Also, the end of the movie gets a bit melodramatic when the winners of the national cheerleading championship are announced. Talk about universal harmony...

Oh, well. I guess if the world is going to unite for anything, it might as well be pom-poms.


Rating: 7 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)
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