by Mel Valentin
Just when you thought the "Bring it On" “franchise” had all but exhausted every possible iteration of the "Bring It On" formula after "Bring It On: In It to Win It" (which followed "Bring It On: All or Nothing," and "Bring It on Again," DTV efforts, all), along comes "Fired Up!," a rude, crude, vulgar, offensive, raunchy-for-raunch’s-sake teen comedy that pushes the PG-13 rating to the limit (and maybe beyond, but don’t tell the MPAA). Helmed by first-time director Will Gluck and written by first-time screenwriter Freedom Jones, "Fired Up!' is lowbrow comedy for lowbrow-loving moviegoers and, in three months time (or less), video watchers.Shawn Colfax (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Nick Brady (Eric Christian Olsen) seem to be living the dream of every hyper-heterosexual, self-satisfied, over-confident teenage American male: they’re ultra-popular high-school jocks for the Gerald R. Ford High School Tigers, star wide receiver and star quarterback, respectively. With popularity comes the usual perks, including dating and, apparently, discarding every available female at their high school. When Shawn and Nick’s profanity-loving coach, Byrnes (Philip Baker Hall), informs the team that he’s holding spring camp in El Paso, Texas, they find the ultimate escape: an all-expenses paid cheerleading camp. There, they hope to take the cheerleading squad led by Carly (Sarah Roemer) from the bottom of the ash heap to one of three spots in the state finals. A rival cheerleading squad led by the very (fake) blonde Gwyneth (AnnaLynne McCord) stands in the way of Carly’s ambitions for the cheerleading squad.
"Bring It On for the YouTube generation (okay, not really)."
That’s not really what Shawn and Nick want, of course. With more than 300 female cheerleaders at the camp and an extremely favorable male-to-female ratio, they expect to score every chance they get (i.e., whenever they’re not on the practice field). While Shawn begins to develop romantic feelings for Carly against his better judgment or the minor obstacle of Carly’s long-term boyfriend, Rick (David Walton), a college freshman and pre-med student, Nick eyes Diora (Molly Sims), the camp’s co-instructor. Diora also happens to be married to Coach Keith (John Michael Higgins). Brewster (Adhir Kalyan), Shawn and Nick’s very gay roommate, Downey (Jake Sandvig), their other roommate, and Poppy (Juliette Goglia), Shawn’s super-bright, super-obnoxious younger sisters, round out the supporting characters.
Freedom Jones’ screenplay for Fired Up! holds exactly zero surprises when it comes to the narrative and character arcs. Shawn and Nick’s rehabilitation is a foregone conclusion from the moment they step on to the screen with their overly confident macho swagger. Shawn learns to value of heterosexual monogamy, but only after he’s thoroughly exploited every available opportunity for sex in high school and, at least early on, at camp. As his counterpart and foil, Nick doesn’t quite learn the same lesson in heterosexual monogamy, but he learns to support his bro’s romantic aspirations, even if he disagrees with them. All of it, of course, leads to the cheerleading competition that’s become a staple of the cheerleading sub-genre (actually, the same applies for all sports dramas and sports comedies).
Most moviegoers, however, won’t (or don’t) care much about lessons in straight monogamy or friendship. They understandably expect a high level of laughs to running time and, in that respect, Fired Up! delivers, more or (often) less. While most of the comedy in Fired Up! centers on Shawn and Nick’s energetic pursuit of sex and the by now derivative send-up of cheerleading and cheerleaders introduced (and perfected) in Bring It On, Fired Up! also relies on the usual lowbrow stand-by: gay humor. Brewster covers two minority groups: he’s Indian (subcontinent, not Native American) and he’s a stereotypically swishy gay male. When Brewster’s not around to provide comic relief, Carly’s blowhard boyfriend Rick is, usually listening to music ten (or more) years out of date. Shawn’s wise-beyond-her-years sister, Poppy, is also on hand to deliver indiscriminate zingers.The phrase, “To be forewarned is to be four-armed” (or something to that effect) certainly applies here. "Fired Up!" cribbed-from-"Bring It On" storyline won’t impress anyone, least of all discerning moviegoers. If you do consider yourself a “discerning moviegoer,” you probably need to ask yourself why you’ve read this far, review wise. If (and it’s a big if, the kind of if that depends on a willful suspension of your critical faculties), crude, vulgar, non-PC humor doesn’t bother you (or even if you welcome it without a trace of guilt or remorse), then "Fired Up!" includes one (or several) comedic surprises. If not, then a palette-cleansing "Bring It On" marathon might be in order.
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originally posted: 02/20/09 04:38:04