Bring It On

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Torrance Shipman anxiously dreams about her first day of senior year. Her boyfriend, Aaron has left for college, and her cheerleading squad, the Toros, is aiming for a sixth consecutive national title. Torrance is elected to replace the team captain, “Big Red,” who is graduating. Soon, however, Carver is injured and can no longer compete. Torrance replaces her with Missy Pantone, a gymnast who recently transferred to the school with her brother Cliff. Torrance and Cliff develop a flirtatious friendship. After watching the Toros practice, Missy realizes the squad has been copying routines from a rival team that her previous high school competed against. She drives Torrance to Los Angeles, where they watch the East Compton Clovers perform routines that are virtually identical to their own team’s. Isis, the Clovers’ team captain, angrily confronts the two. Torrance learns that “Big Red” regularly attended the Clovers’ practices to videotape and steal their routines.

Isis informs Torrance of her plans to defeat the Toros at the regional and national championships, which the team has never attended due to their economic hardship. When Torrance tells the Toros about the routines, the team still votes in favor of using the current routine to win; Torrance reluctantly agrees. At the Toros’ next home game, Isis and her teammates show up and perform the Toros’ routine in front of the whole school, humiliating them. The Toros realize that they have no choice but to learn a different routine. In desperation, they employ a professional choreographer named Sparky Polastri to provide one, as suggested by Aaron. But at the Regionals, the team scheduled immediately ahead of the Toros performs the exact routine they had been practicing. The Toros have no choice but to perform the very same routine. After the debacle that ensues, Torrance speaks to a competition official and is told Polastri provided the routine to several other teams in California. As the defending champions, the Toros are nevertheless granted their place in the Finals, but Torrance is warned that a new routine will be expected. Torrance, crushed by her failure to lead the team successfully, considers quitting.

Cliff encourages and supports her, intensifying their growing attraction. Aaron, however, suggests that she is not leadership material and recommends that she step down from her position. When Cliff sees Torrance and Aaron together, he angrily severs his friendship with Torrance, to her distress. But her confidence is renewed by Cliff’s encouragement and she convinces her unhappy team to create an innovative, new routine instead. She breaks up with Aaron, realizing his infidelity and his inability to be supportive, but Cliff still refuses to forgive her. Meanwhile, the Clovers are initially unable to compete at Nationals due to financial problems. This prompts Torrance to get her dad’s company to sponsor the Clovers, but Isis rejects the money and gets her team to Nationals by appealing to a talk show host who grew up in their area. In the finals, the Toros place second, while the Clovers win. However, at the end of the movie, Torrance and Isis find respect in each other, and Cliff and Torrance share a romantic kiss.

REVIEW:

Cheerleaders. The unattainable prize for non-jock adolescent boys. Well, I dated one when I was in high school and I was a band geek, so there is that. Bring It On is one of the films that shows cheering in a light other than just a bunch of cute girls who exist to shag the star football players. Does that mean this is a film you should keep away from?

What is this about?

Pressure mounts as cheerleading captain Torrance Shipman attempts to lead her crew to its sixth national title. She’s determined to let nothing — not family, schoolwork or an inner-city squad with a score to settle — get in the way of winning.

What did I like?

Cheer or die. One of the best things about this film is that it really shows how far these athletes go to compete for a championship. In one of the first scenes, a girl falls from the top of a the cheer pyramid, severely injures herself, and still wants to compete as soon as she’s able. That’s dedication!

He gets her? In typical high school society, cheerleaders tend to go for the jocks. At least that’s how it was at my high school. So, for this film to break that mold and have the head cheerleader pair up with a “nobody” really speaks to how society has changed. Now, I have to ask, since he’s with her, can I have his sister? HAHA!

Stereotypes need not apply. Looking for the typical stereotypical cheerleaders that bubbleheaded, vapid blondes? You might want to find another film, then. In this film, these girls have brains, attitude, and looks. The guys that are on the team…yes, there are guys on the team…are also highly trained athletes that I wager could just as easily have made the football team, but chose rather to cheer because apparently the team hasn’t won a game in quite some time.

What didn’t I like?

Cloverfield. Understanding that the Cloverfield squad is meant to be the anti-Rancho Carne, they just got on my nerves. The girls spoke in the “ghetto” speak, complete with hand movement that has always irked me. The style they had nearly made me want to turn the film off everytime they were on the screen. Had it not been for Gabrielle Union’s character showing class and decorum through those scenes, I doubt I would have made it through. Someone needed to tone down those girls because they were just shy of being hood rats!

Charity. So, there is this thing called pride that sometimes will not allow us to accept help, no matter the cost and/or reason. However, I have to question why Union’s character just tore up the check she received from Kristen Dunst’s character. Yes, they wanted to earn their own way, but the way this was presented made her just seem catty and vicious. In some ways, you could say racist, if you must play that card. For me, I would have liked for her to have taken the check and then Cloverfield wins with the money given to them by the father of Dunst’s character, but that might be a bit too much for this light hearted film.

Personality change. Eliza Dushku comes in as a hardcore rocker chick who only tries out for the team because they don’t have a gymnastics program. She is quite obviously not the cheering type. With that said, all it takes is a couple of scenes and she is all but immersed in cheering culture. Now, I would expect some transformation, but given the way they introduce her, it just seems as if there should have been more resistance and not this apparent brainwashing.

Bring It On did for cheerleading what a film like Drumline has done for marching band. Sure, neither one is anywhere close to showing what it is really like, but they portray their activity in a positive light. For that reason alone, this should be a must-see, but there is also the fact that this is not a bad film. It is quite enjoyable, especially for a teen comedy. I’m not a fan of cheering. As a matter of fact, I have been vocal about seeing it on ESPN (though it is more entertaining that poker, golf, and some of the other things they have on there), but this flick really kept my attention. Do I recommend it? Yes, very highly! Give it a shot and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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