Bring It On (2000) / Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for sex-related material and language
Running time: 98 min.
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union
Director: Peyton Reed
Screenplay: Jessica Bendinger
Review published December 6, 2000
Bring It On is the sort of mindless fluff I would expect on the Disney channel to pass for "quality entertainment", but I doubt they would let the multitudinous cheesecake shots and phallic symbolism which permeate nearly every scene play on regular family television. It's no surprise that director Peyton Reed's (Down with Love, The Break-Up) previous work just so happens to be in made for TV movies, which might also explain the derivative nature and poor handling of scenes that make little sense in the film. Perhaps actually being from Southern California makes me a little skeptical that the actual cheerleading squad from East Compton would resemble this Hollywood version. Compton and San Diego are sufficiently far enough apart to disbelieve that the two squads would go to each other's school's whenever they feel like chatting for a few minutes, and it's more of a stretch that they would do so without being hassled or even the fear of it.
The plot: The cheerleaders of Rancho Carnie High School in San Diego won last year's national championship and the pressure is on to do it again this year. Torrance (Dunst, Dick) is the new cheerleading captain this year, and finds that maintaining their excellence proves harder than she thought because they had stolen their cheers and moves from the ladies of East Compton, who are also vying for the national prize. Gee, ya think these two will have a showdown in the nationals?
Perhaps even worse than the directing and acting is the inept writing by first-timer Jessica Bendinger (The Truth About Charlie, First Daughter), who is without a doubt too far removed from modern teens that she feels the need to invent her own slangy phrases to make it all seem so hip. Her dreamy male is seen as cool because he listens to early 80s groups like The Clash, Devo and Elvis Costello, which I suspect were favorites of Ms. Bendinger, but definitely not cool enough to be hip to anyone not in college already. Added to this, Bring It On may be cute, but as a comedy it's far from funny, and to watch gag after gag fizzle for 90 minutes can be tedious with a plot this predictable.
Clearly this is homogenized cotton candy for 12-14 year old girls who enjoy the kick-ass music and cute cast enough to care about it as entertainment and not necessarily for me, but still there' are so many better films on this level. Bring It On is a wasteland of ideas with talent that seems like it doesn't even want to try, content with wallowing in its own coy lameness for the easy and forgettable thrills. If I were to return to high school grading instead of a star system, I might have suggested the producers change the title to "Gimme a D".
-- Followed by in-name-only straight-to-video sequels, Bring It On Again (2004) and Bring It On: All Or Nothing (2006)
©2000 Vince Leo