The "Bring It On" Franchise Mar 19, 2020 14:25:38 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Mar 19, 2020 14:25:38 GMT -5
Bring It On (2000)
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Directed by: Peyton Reed
Gabrielle Union, Kirsten Dunst, and Eliza Dushku in Bring It On.
Bring It On is set in a San Diego high school where the football team has been hot garbage for years while the cheerleading squad is the real attraction. Rancho Carnie High School's cheer-squad has won five consecutive national championships, and is gunning for their sixth under new captain Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst), a young woman who says "cheer is my whole life" without a trace of irony. She's dealt a crummy hand from the jump when a team-member breaks her leg, forcing her and the girls to hold tryouts. The standout is Missy (Eliza Dushku), a gymnast who settles for cheerleading seeing as the school doesn't have a gymnastics program. Her aversion to the cultist tendencies of cheerleading is evident in her tryout, but her moves are undeniably impressive.
It's Missy who drops a bomb on Torrance shortly after making the team and seeing their routine at practice: their cheers have been stolen from the mostly black East Compton High School's cheer-squad, led by Isis (Gabrielle Union). Now, pressed for time, Rancho Carnie is looking at a total rebuild of their cheers, prompting Torrance to seek out professional dancers and other outlets for inspiration with nationals looming. Also on her mind is Cliff (Jesse Bradford), Missy's Brit-pop loving brother, who develops a crush on Torrance despite being mystified by how she can be so consumed by cheerleading.
Director Peyton Reed — who made his transition from TV to features with Bring It On and would later go on to direct both Ant-Man and its sequel in the mid 2010s — and Sex and the City writer Jessica Bendinger make an attempt to bring a self-aware edge to the material, but fail to have it define the picture. Bring It On wants to laugh at how seriously Torrance and her fellow cheerleaders take the competition with moments like Torrance proclaiming, "My entire cheerleading career has been a lie!" once discovering her routines were stolen. But unlike, say, Alexander Payne's Election, by not committing to this snarkier tone that shows the degree of cattiness that inevitably occurs in competitive high school teams, it fails to bring the humorous edge to the story it's do desperately craving.
Instead, Reed turns the should-be R-rated material into a sitcom-esque effort that coasts on the charisma of the cast as opposed to the writing, which only goes so far. That being said, it goes the distance when you have Kirsten Dunst in her early days, boasting an incandescent smile, and Eliza Dushku, bringing a confident energy, although her transformation from a too-cool-for-this outcast to a peppy cheerleader happens a bit too fast to be believable. As impressive as the choreography tends to be, it does build to a flaccid finale where the lack of urgency and suspense in this sports movie catch up to it.
Bring It On is caught in a strange crevasse between satire and admiration of the catty cheerleader stereotype. It doesn't commit to being a biting commentary on the combative world of cheerleading nor the underlying "cheerocracy" politics that come into play for Torrance to company, but it does dazzle us with fluffy, mostly inoffensive comedy. Alas, we turn our brains off when we could've turned them on.
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, and Gabrielle Union. Directed by: Peyton Reed.