Reviewed by GREG KING.
Bring It On set against the background of competitive gymnastics?
After one brush too many with the law, Hayley Graham (played by newcomer Missy Peregrym,), a rebellious tomboy, is arrested. The judge offers her the choice of being sent to either military school or gymnastics academy. Reluctantly, Hayley returns to the Vickerman Gymnastics Academy, run by a washed up former gymnast in Burt Vickerman (played with aging grace and grumpy charm by Jeff Bridges). A couple of years earlier Hayley had walked off the national gym team the night before an important competition, and her former team mates have never forgiven her. Now she has another chance to prove herself, but, with her distinctly individual style, she continually butts heads and egos with her coach and ambitious teammates.
Stick It is a teen comedy from first time director Jessica Bendinger, better known for writing Bring It On, so it is not surprising that the two films share many thematic similarities. Both films explore the intense rivalry of sports, the bitchiness of competition, and the off-court politics that can sometimes dominate elite sports. But Stick It is also a film about success, the high price of competition, as well as the importance of independence and non-conformity.
Bendinger hails from a background in directing music videos, and she typically suffuses the film with lots of energy and flashy visuals, and a pumping soundtrack. But it’s all fairly superficial, and Bendinger’s flashy style fails to disguise the film’s essential lack of originality!
The performances are a mixed bag throughout, as actors mix it up with a number of real-life gymnasts. Peregrym, who bears a strong resemblance to Hilary Swank on steroids, has a strong screen presence and acquits herself well in a fairly cliched role. Bridges is always a very watchable actor, even in lesser films, but here he seems unable to do much with the cliched, flawed character he plays.
Stick It has its moments of interest and a few laughs, but it will mainly appeal to those with a passion for and knowledge of gymnastics.