Cheating Cheerleaders 'Bring It On'
By by KAREN CHAU, Staff Writer
In this era of Britney and Backstreet Boys, teeny-bop makes money at the movies, so studios keep churning it out. Their latest offering is "Bring It On," starring Kirsten Dunst as head cheerleader Torrance Shipman. Following in the tradition of gems such as "10 Things I Hate About You" and "Cruel Intentions," "Bring It On" is careful to maintain an awareness of its own ridiculousness by constantly poking fun at its own premise. Although it lacks the sustained genius of its predecessors, "Bring It On" is thoroughly entertaining.

New squad leader Torrance seeks redemption after she discovers her preppy San Diego squad has won the last five National Cheerleading Championships under previous captains by ripping off the routines of an inner-city squad from East Compton.

Scandalous, to be sure, and the source for a few somewhat contrived moments of racial tension. Throw in a rebel cheerleading replacement Missy (Eliza Dushku), the requisite love interest Cliff (Jesse Bradford) and a showdown between the two squads, and you have a completely formulaic plot, in which even the "surprises" are cliches, albeit completely amusing and entertaining ones.

Case in point: the love interest, Cliff. To distinguish him from any old preppy, Cliff falls into the rebel alterna-babe category, with Clash shirts, an air guitar, song-writing tendencies and a wry half-smirk used to express everything from chagrin to lust. However, per teen movies, he is less greasy than real life and high on the pretty boy scale. His romance with Torrance consists of five-minute interactions and soulful gazes.

Torrance, as played by Dunst, is a peppy, upbeat and genuinely sweet girl. When she discovers the secret behind her squad's award-winning routines, she cries without irony, "But this means my entire cheerleading career has been a lie!" For those choking on their popcorn, she lectures to a similarly skeptical Missy just how serious cheerleading can be as a sport.

To belabor her point throughout the movie, the cheerleading routines are filled with flips and gymnastics that really are both impressive and fun to watch. While the satirical opening cheer focuses more on Torrance's chanting lines such as "I'm bitchin', great hair / The boys all like to stare" and "I have it, I'm hot / I'm everything you're not," later routines involve tossing girls up into the air, backflips across the stage and tae-bo kicks.

Of course, all these routines are also done in cheerleading outfits that anticipate the adolescent male crowd that raced to see "Coyote Ugly." To satisfy their tastes, the writers even obligingly throw in a car wash scene in which Torrance and her bikini-clad squad mates raise money by "charging people to ogle."

Despite its constant tongue-in-cheek attitude and occasional genuine cleverness ("Cheerleaders are dancers gone retarded!"), "Bring It On" is finally hampered by its utter predictability and awful slang.

The latter includes the groan-inducing lines, "She's the poo, so take a whiff" and "She puts the 'duh' in dumb." Unlike past masterpieces such as "Clueless," these "hip" one-liners sometimes ring so false, they go beyond witty satire and into the realm of a really bad "Dawson's Creek" episode.

The actors do their best to overcome the occasionally excruciating script and usually get away with it. The weak writing keeps the movie from becoming a truly fabulous fluff classic, but it does add to the bubble-gum light-heartedness on which "Bring It On" is built and thrives.

Issue 02, Submitted 2000-09-13 15:58:36