Bring It On (USA, 2000)
Directed by Peyton Reed
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union
F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, once said: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." His point was that coming down on one side or another in a given argument is relatively easy, while it takes an active and detailed engagement with the topic in hand to understand the implications of each opinion.
Stick It, I spoke at great lengths about the difficulties of writing believable female characters, particulary when it comes to sports films. One could write whole theses on the notion that cinema as a medium could be considered inherently masculine, but in any case the sports genre is dominated by stories of men rather than of women. Hence any sports film which centres around women, or addresses the standards to which they must confirm, has to overcome both the standard baggage that comes with writing female characters and the extra baggage of the genre's reputation and target market.
Spinal Tap and making us laugh as their delusional levels of self-belief.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch) or so oversexualised that it borders on creepy (subverted in Jennifer's Body). But Bring It On doesn't make as much effort as it could to challenge any of the personality traits associated with the sport. It just assumes that we already find cheerleaders annoying, turns the characters briefly up to 11 and leaves it at that.
Kind Hearts and Coronets, did it all the time, giving us protagonists who were often jaded, corrupt or just plain malevolent and somehow making us bond with them. The key, as is so often the case, is character development: we have to learn something about the characters to make them seem more human and less one-dimensionally hateful, a point that I raised in my negative review of Sightseers.
Heathers with pompoms, but there are opportunities all throughout the running time for it to dig a little deeper - opportunities that it very rarely takes.
The Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell in the latter, none of these efforts are becoming of a would-be cult director. They're largely safe and harmless affairs, which often pull back from doing anything controversial or radical.
Oliver & Company, to continue the Disney theme. But while it's trying hard to make up its mind, it plays out its conflicted self in a memorable and enjoyable manner on screen, a facet which ultimately redeems it.
Spinal Tap levels of insight and intelligence, we'll quickly grow disappointed and lose interest. If, on the other hand, we come looking for entertainment, while being open to the idea of maybe learning something, then the film becomes much more agreeable all-round. The substance is still there in muted form, and the film is every bit as conflicted, but like Highlander its flaws are overriden by one's desire to enjoy the action, even if just to admire the prowess of the performers.
Get Over It the following year, her presence causes everyone else to lift their game.
NEXT REVIEW: Skyfall (2012)