BRING IT ON brought on delight in 2000, a literally cheerful exercise in teen comedy, girl-power and a tangy bit of social comment, written with sparkle by Jessica Bendinger, directed with an eye on the funnybone by Peyton Reed, giving some personable, attractive and talented young actresses a leap ahead in their careers. Eye candy? Well, must we Duh! “Courtney, this is not a democracy, it’s a cheerocracy.” Someone’s “being a cheer-tator“.
‘Torrance Shipman’ (Kirsten Dunst), effervescent San Diego high school senior, hopes to lead the ‘Toros’, the school’s cheerleading squad, to another national title (their football team, meanwhile, is the pits), but the odds are as high as the stakes. Along with boyfriend trouble, the usual brat kid brother, and cutthroat cheer-bitches ‘Courtney’ and ‘Whitney’, she’s faced with challenging the fearless sisters from an L.A. rival, captained by brazenly confident ‘Isis’ (Gabrielle Union). Hardcase new chick ‘Missy’ (Eliza Dushku) helps out, but Bob Fosse-emulating choreographer ‘Sparky Polastri’ (Ian Roberts) is an error in wait.
Dunst, 17—she graduated from High School the same year, and Union, a teenish 27, rally their girls with charm, chemistry and conviction, the supporting cast shine, the jokes are clever, the dance routines bursting with energy and skill. Playing with stereotypes, the movie deftly manages to have fun while making fun and to do so without stooping to condescend: beneath all the sideswipe putdowns, huffs of pouty distress and neck-directed faceoffs there’s a sympathetic and winning spirit. High kicks.
The $10,000,000 routine somersaulted to a split at 37th place for the year on home team court, with a worldwide rally of $90,450,000. Cult status accrued. Four years later the first of five direct-to-video knockoff sequels followed: none made the grade. Avoid those pretenders and stick with Torry, Missy, Courtney, Whitney, Darcy, Kasey, Isis, Lava and Jenelope.
“I’m bitchin’, great hair, / The boys all love to stare, / I’m wanted, I’m hot, / I’m everything you’re not, / I’m pretty, I’m cool, / I dominate this school/…”
With Jesse Bradford, Clare Kramer (“Courtney’), Nicole Bilderback (“Whitney’), Tsianina Joelson, Shamari Fears (‘Lava’), Natina Reed (fierce lil’ thang ‘Jenelope’), Lindsey Sloane, Cody McMains, Brandi Williams.
“You were having cheer-sex with him!” The sass-talking ladies from “Rancho Carne’ and ‘East Compton’ nailed the cute but they also had class-A comedy company that millennium year from the likes of O Brother Where Art Thou?, High Fidelity, Almost Famous, Best In Show and The Tao Of Steve.