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Stick It

Reviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 04/28/06 02:47:38

"More crotch shots than 'Dead Ringers!'"
1 stars (Sucks)

Hey, I enjoy the sight of lightly-clad babes in tight leotards bending, stretching and contorting themselves into unimaginable positions but the insipid “Stick It” is so profoundly annoying that it manages to make such a thing virtually unendurable for even the most determinedly dirty-minded of viewers. The fact that it comes out the same weekend as “Akeelah and the Bee” is amusing because to watch the two side-by-side (as I did during one long day in the screening room) is to see the profound difference between a film that is made because someone had a story they wanted to tell and one that was made because it made for a good poster and little else.

The film stars newcomer Missy Peregrym as Haley, a former gymnast who ditched her team just before the nationals (for reasons too idiotic to believe) in order to become a pouty rebel. After getting in trouble with the law, she is inexplicably sentenced to train at the Vickerman Gymnastics Academy–a joint run by none other than Jeff Bridges, looking as embarrassed as can be–and go back into competition. Of course, her fellow students resent her past exploits and her anti-social behavior, but they bond over a couple of montages and eventually unite at the national championships to protest what they feel to be the unfair manner in which they are judged while slamming their cervixes into wooden poles at 90 mph.

Of course, no one is going into the likes of “Stick It” for an incisive look at the world of competitive gymnastics–it is basically a bubble-headed movie has been made for girls who dream of being gymnasts and horny boys of all ages who dream of being with gymnasts. (Walter Wanger didn’t get off as many crotch shots as this film does.) No, the real problem with the film is the simple fact that the central character is so utterly unlikable and annoyingly self-righteous in her “I’m-a-tormented-rebel-so-love-me!” pose that you can’t help but secretly hope for her to take a header into the ground every time she does a routine.

Even the film, written and directed by “Bring It On” screenwriter Jessica Bendinger, seems to get fed up with her after a while–how else to account for the otherwise inexplicable shift of focus in the last reels to judging controversies? And even as a simple appreciation of the art of gymnastics is somewhat obliterated here by the obvious fact that the performances are constantly being jazzed up with camera tricks and obvious stunt doubles. Furthermore, despite the suggestions that our heroines are really going to shake things up with their routines, they seem to be doing the same old stuff you see all the time–the only difference is that instead of that stuffy classical music, they perform it to the sonic noise that is far more commercially acceptable to the target audience.

There is one aspect to “Stick It” that I did get an unsavory kick out of. It turns out that Missy Peregrym is almost a dead ringer for a girl that I went to college–therefore, if I ever want to imagine her bending, stretching and contorting herself wearing nothing but a sheen of sweat and a skimpy leotard, I can simply put on the eventual DVD instead of having to conjure up such an image in my imagination. Of course, if you didn’t slave away in the theater department of the University of Illinois at Chicago in the early 90's, this particular item will probably not have as much significance. Beyond that, “Stick It” is a brainless and soulless example of marketing masquerading as moviemaking that clearly hopes to do for gymnastics what “Bring It On” did for cheerleading, but the results are so poor that it doesn’t even do what “Bring It On Again” did for “Bring It On.”

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