Sugar & Spice (2001)
Main cast: Marla Sokoloff (Lisa), Marley Shelton (Diane Weston), Melissa George (Cleo), Mena Suvari (Kansas), Rachel Blanchard (Hannah), Alexandra Holden (Fern), Sara Marsh (Lucy), and James Marsden (Jack Bartlett)
Director: Francine McDougall

Cheerleaders are always the butt of jokes, you poor girls. In high school, cheerleaders rule. Then the geeky, unpopular people grow up to be film critics and film makers, and high on self-righteous vengeance, they make cheerleaders a curse on anyone outside high school. Sugar & Spice portrays five dim-witted cheerleaders rallying together to rob a bank, but instead of the gentle respect of, say, Bring It On, Sugar & Spice doesn't even give its leads a chance to attain two-dimensionality in personality.

Diane Weston are friends with her A Team Cheerleading Squad members Kansas, Cleo, Hannah, and Lucy. I know one's a religious wingnut with a twisted thing for horses, one's an asexual "rebel", one's a brain, one's Ms Sunshine (this I know is Diane), and uhm - yeah, one has a big crush on Conan O'Brien (don't ask). Diane and Jack, the equally dim-witted football jock, fall in love and when Diane is pregnant, decide to get married.

"The Beatles got it wrong! Love isn't all you need! It's money!" Diane wails one day after too much juggling finances (and cheerleading practice and high school) causes her to snap.

So the cheerleading squad decides to rob a bank.

It sounds fun, but Sugar & Spice is more intent on showing how clever it is than to actually be clever. Apart from Diane and Jack, who make an endearing, if goofy, couple with all the right tender moments to make them worth rooting for, and the narrator of this story, the deliciously evil and droll Lisa, everyone else is a one-note character designed just to be "clever".

After the novelty of watching five Betty dolls and one Richard Nixon bungle up a robbery fades, there's little to savor in Sugar & Spice. It's funny, yes. But what else is there? Marsden and Shelton must be commended for valiantly infusing their roles with dopey likeability when the script demands their utmost humiliation. Come to think of it, the only reason why I see most critics praising this movie is because it fits their expectations: cheerleaders are jokes meant to be savaged to pieces.

I say, Bring It On still rules.

Rating: 75

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