Bring it on: in it to win it

Steve Rash (USA, 2007)

Back in the early days of this century, before the George W. Bush reign of terror, we lived in a more innocent age. Where now we cower in fear of ‘terrrsts’ and credit crunches, the biggest controversy of the prior presidency had been Clinton getting his game on. During this halcyon age, there was a fantastic film called Bring it on.

Bring it on concerned the trials and tribulations of the Rancho Carne Toros. The Toros were ostensibly the goodies of the piece, but the film went morally deeper than that. It was sarcastic, well characterised, nimbly paced and intelligent. And had lots of buff gyal in cheerleader outfits. It was fantastic, but we’ll save my real gushing for the planned high school films countdown. You think I’m making these lists up, don’t you.

It was such a good film that, much like the Blair Witch Project of the previous year, I determined never to watch the sequel. And then another sequel appeared. I figured such avoision (it’s a word. Look it up) would be easy as the films lacked star power or other selling points.*

But this weekend, while idly surfing the channels just after waking, I saw a Bring it on film was on telly. I had no idea which number it was til I checked on Wikipedia. Figuring there was no harm in watching for a few minutes, I broke my own rule. And I really enjoyed it. With no recurring characters or themes (other than cheerleaders and cheerleading), this was just a cheerleading film on its own in the wild.

Bring it on: in it to win it (BIO:IITWI – what does it all mean?!) lacks the sharp dialogue of the original, as well as the tight plotting. Instead, there is a lot of street slang, cliché one-liners and sneaking into warehouses to retrieve stolen things. And they have taken the spirit stick curse just a step too far. I suppose they have to do something to develop the sort-of-series.

It’s surprisingly good though. Despite the heel team actually being babyfaces in disguise – thankfully with bigger sources of evil lurking nearby – the narrative worked. Writers Alyson Fouse and Elena Song pitched the peril at the right level. The hurdles are of sufficient concern to provide drama, without making the audience think success was impossible. After the original film, the seeds of doubt are ever-present as to whether our team will actually win, which is a pleasant Damoclean sword.

The characters are as bitchy as a film like this requires, with surprising depth lurking beneath the veneer of peroxide and lip gloss. Sadly there are no adult characters as brilliant as Sparky Polastri from the original, but he was a one-off anyway. The actual cheer choreography is impressive, and the pop-punk soundtrack fits the film without ever threatening to overpower it.**

Interestingly enough, there is a Bring It On Cinco on its way. It will be more of the same for sure, but I will be in all likelihood checking it out. That nomenclature does remind me that this fourth instalment is definitely more Hispanic than the original – which was White City – with African Americans maintaining token status in the series.

Perhaps this is a reaction to the demographic buying the DVDs. Maybe the producers are trying to expand viewership from the white suburbs. You know, to Latina (you’d imagine most viewers to be female) suburbs. With the Tisdale sisters featuring prominently in the film, the white core audience is certainly being catered for.

In the grand scheme of high school/teen flicks (and without risking list spoilage), BIO:IITWI is no Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Get Over it or even Mean Girls. It is, however, a disturbingly good fourth instalment*** that I think I will eventually buy. Which will probably only be when the series has ended and is available in its entirety for about a tenner. But that will be a lot of fun.

* I suppose I should mention the third film featured one Hayden Panettiere, who would later star in Heroes as… a cheerleader. It’s no Eliza Dushku/Kirsten Dunst though.
** Not that I have seen it, but Nutty Professor 2 apparently has a remix of the mighty ‘Thong Song’ on its soundtrack. I don’t see the film living up to that.
*** Well it’s better than Scary movie 4. And Star Trek 4. Not the greatest company, admittedly.
P.S.Image teefed from Collider.
P.P.S. It’s been more than a year since my last film post? Damn.

4 thoughts on “Bring it on: in it to win it

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