Main cast: Kirsten Dunst (Torrance Shipman), Eliza Dushku (Missy Pantone), Jesse Bradford (Cliff Pantone), Gabrielle Union (Isis), Clare Kramer (Courtney), Nicole Bilderback (Whitney), Tsianina Joelson (Darcy), Shamari Fears (Lava), Natina Reed (Jenelope), and Brandi Williams (Lafred)
Director: Peyton Reed
I was a bit hesitant to watch when this movie made its premiere over here. I had this scary vision of Coyote Ugly on a Lolita trip.
Surprise, Bring It On is a wonderfully witty, dangerously subversive, and exuberant celebration of youth, beauty, and fun. Life’s never better than that. Yes, it shamelessly panders to the horny and male: short skirted, tight tank-topped, navel-baring, well-toned “high school ladies” dancing and swaying to Toni Basil’s Mickey is something Vladimir Nabokov would be proud of.
But underneath the usual stereotypical high school full of beautiful kids (where are their parents?) premise, this movie depicts real insecurities, hides a razor-sharp intelligence, and it celebrates education and hard work, and no, it doesn’t end on prom night.
Torrance is the new cheerleader squad captain of her school, and boy, is she in a lot of difficulties. Juggling between struggling to get into college and delivering her squad their sixth victory at the annual National Cheerleading Tournament, as well as to help a newcomer (cynical Missy) into the squad, she gets ill when she realizes that the routine they are using is ripped from a rival school squad, the Clovers. What to do?
Well, it’s a bumpy ride for Torrance. I like this lady. A bit on the clueless side at times, her problems are real when it comes to dealing with her future, her studies, and her first brush with responsibility. Then there’s ah, love, in the form of Missy’s brother, the 70s punk band-loving Cliff (he loves The Clash – I’m in love already). And for Torrance, she realizes what makes love work – trust.
“You believe in me!” she calls after Cliff, realizing in that moment, that’s all that matters in a relationship. Not cute faces (Cliff is, by the way), not hot kisses (I’m sure he does), but trust and belief in each other. It’s not a bad message to give to the kids in the audience.
And yeah, brushing your teeth makes good foreplay and courtship. And a swing makes a perfect place for one’s first almost kiss. Who would’ve thought this movie would be also darned fun and romantic?
Likewise, there is no short-cuts to victory. The Toros, Torrance’s team, really work, they have to work. In a way, Bring It On is a celebration of life – one needs determination and hard work to succeed, and making it fun is the only palatable way to go about doing it.
Then there’s the color! Dance routines, red hot firecracker agility, and lots of pom-poms (and shapely female legs on displays). I’ll never think cheerleaders as some sort of bimbo slackers again. They work hard, they play hard, and heck, maybe they work as hard as the nerds in school.
And the dialogues are fun and bouncy, with lots of innuendos thrown in. There are the obligatory high school cast – the friendly gay, the roguish womanizer-wannabe, the bitch, the cynical outcast, the unworthy boyfriend – but hey, it’s all done in a healthy dose of fun and respect for everyone even as they flash us their best grin and pull up their skirt for naughty peek-a-boo shows. “Don’t take us seriously” they say, and I don’t. I love them for that.
And yeah, amidst all the eye candy for the guys, Jesse Bradford more than capably succeeds as the sole eye candy for the ladies. If he smiles one more time, I’m going to melt on the floor.
Fun, exuberant, and utterly brimming with humor, wit, laughter, and attitude, Bring It On brings it on indeed. Cheerleaders rule. Come on, everybody now:
You can look but don’t you hump
I’m major, I roar
I swear I’m not a whore
We cheer as we lead
We act like we’re on speed
Hate us ’cause we’re beautiful
But we don’t like you either