Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gimme a ‘C’(-plus)!

Posted on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Fired Up
Director: Will Gluck
Screenwriter: Will Gluck
Cast: Nicholas Dâ??Agosto, Eric Christian Olsen, Sarah Roemer, Molly Sims, John Michael Higgins
Release Date: 2009-02-25
Rated: R
Genre: Film

In the annals of cheer cinema (or, as I may immediately regret typing, “cheerinema,” which bears an unfortunate phonetic resemblance — if perhaps not an entirely inappropriate one, given the present context — to the `hopefully invented` phrase “cheer enema”), no two films, as of this writing, seem to me more vital or more genre-instructive than Peyton Reed’s seminal Bring It On (2000) and the now-showing Fired Up.

No two films, further, more fully constitute that most personally relevant of cheerinema subcategories: The Two Cheerleading Movies I Can Name Without IMDBing.

(No, that Mena Suvari bank-robbing one that I haven’t seen `Sugar & Spice` doesn’t count. It’s about cheerleader-bank-robbers. Different skill set.)

But then, here I am, being smug for no especially defensible reason. I like Bring It On, probably a bit more than the next guy. It’s breezy, un-self-important, and a sight cleverer than it needed to be — can’t be mad at that. And, maybe to a somewhat lesser extent, I enjoyed Fired Up. Bring It On it ain’t (I really just wrote that, huh?), but it works in enough spots.

The film plays something like a casual crosspollination between said proto-cheerflick franchise and, say, Wedding Crashers: The Teen Years. Two devil-may-care high-school footballers (Not Another Teen Movie /Beerfest’s Olsen, of the nimble-jawed, Jim-Carrey-cum-Ryan-Reynolds school of punchline delivery, and the doe-eyed, downright huggable D’Agosto — whom the most impressive among you will remember as the slightly younger-looking doe-eyed, downright huggable kid who caught Matthew Broderick trying to bone-smuggle the democratic process in Election) and their insistent, power-of-attorney-wielding hormones, faced with the prospect of two weeks in absentia vagina at summer training camp, decide instead — naturally — to infiltrate the school’s hapless (but telegenic!) cheerleading squad, thereby Trojan Horsing their way into what they believe is their sexual Manifest Destiny: to bed as many pliant pom girls as is viable in a 10-to-14-day span at “cheer camp,” then cut out early, rejoining their gridiron teammates in time for the post-training-camp lake party. Standing in the way: hawkeyed head cheerleader Carly (Roemer, Disturbia), possibly the only female classmate still in guys’ “to-do” column; about 15-to-20 pages of Act One screenplay, give or take; and the distinct possibility that one or both of the fellas will grow a conscience, develop an unexpected-but-genuine passion for cheerleading, and/or discover a more profound and meaningful brand of love-slash-adolescent-infatuation.

SPOILER ALERT!

About that last bit: Yes, Yes, and Kinda.

END SPOILER ALERT!

So, look. The bottom line is that Fired Up is intended purely for laughs, and gets its share, despite some spottiness. Olsen, whose work I’ve enjoyed before, is a bit much at times, scores at others. D’Agosto is compulsively likable (I’m telling you, you just wanna squeeze ’im), though his character, as written, tends occasionally toward douchedom.

Essentially: If you’re in the mood, Fired Up’ll make you chuckle plenty. Heck, even guffaw a few times. It’s not a can’t-miss, but I can’t imagine too many complaints, particularly among its target demographic. Besides, it’s gotta beat a cheer enema, eh?

Whatever that is. •

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