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.


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


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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