Bring It On

Bring It On


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Rancho Carne High is different from most all-American high schools. Its football team sucks and the crowds come to see the national championship winning cheerleaders instead.

Departing captain Big Red appoints Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) her successor. She inherits a dedicated, well-drilled squad and a surefire hit routine.

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But Torrance isn't the uber-bitch Big Red was. Trying to cement her position she pushes the team into attempting an exceptionally difficult human pyramid move. It doesn't come off and one of the team falls and injures herself.

So Torrance has to find a replacement fast. The best candidate is new girl Missy Pantone (Eliza Dushku - Faith from TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Missy thinks cheering is stupid, but it's her best option in a school whose proper gymnastics program is non-existent.

At rehearsal Missy walks out when she sees the Toros routine, recognising that it's been lifted wholesale from the East Compton Clovers, a cheer team from the LA ghetto. Big Red, it transpires, has been nicking their routines for years. But this year the Clovers intend to enter the championships themselves...

A divided squad and no cheer routine - as if Torrance's life wasn't bad enough, she's also finding herself torn between Missy's brother, Cliff, and her old boyfriend, now a college freshman...

I really enjoyed Bring It On. The fact that it's about cheerleaders helps of course: Who could resist all that teenage T & A prancing around in skimpy costumes? (Though one should emphasise that this is an equal-opportunity mixed cheerleading team, with plenty of buff guys to go with the pert girls.)

But, dubious leching aside, the enthusiasm and energy of the performers is infectious and the laughs come thick and fast.

Much credit must go to the film-makers for their decision not to just do a hatchet job on cheerleading. Though there's a fair sense of the fundamental ridiculousness of cheerleading when put under the microscope, the same could be said for any human endeavour. As such, Bring It On encourages empathy between audience and character. Torrance and company happen to have chosen the medium of cheerleading for self-actualisation and learning valuable life-lessons.

Not that Bring It On's is perfect by any means. True to form, the teenagers are the usual clear-skinned, gleaming-toothed, honed and toned types that never existed in such numbers in any real school.

A black critic like bell hooks will probably detect an attempt to sustain white hegemony in the film's treatment of the relationship between the white Rancho Carne and black East Compton students; while some gay critics may note that the film - while certainly tolerant and homo-friendly - ultimately just isn't willing to go that extra mile and have the hints of something between Torrance and Missy develop into anything more.

But, these niggles aside, Bring It On is a warm and funny crowd-pleaser that deserves to find an audience with the Clueless and American Pie crowds.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Cheerleaders battle to regain their national title.
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Angus Wolfe Murray *

Director: Peyton Reed

Writer: Jessica Bendinger

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union, Clare Cramer, Nicole Bilderback, Tsiana Joelson, Rini Bell, Nathan West, Huntley Ritter Lindsay Sloane

Year: 2000

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA


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