Universal // 2006 // 99 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 28th, 2006
Can't we all just get along?
It's time for another peppy round of race-baiting, as a rich white girl ends up in a tough inner-city school, and, together with the sassy black girl, she'll get back at the racist white girl from her old school. Go team!
Poor little Britney (Hayden Panettiere). She used to be top dog at her school, captain of the cheerleading squad, significant other to the hottest football stud on campus, and surrounded by adoring friends. But then her dad had to go and get all poor, forcing the family to move into the ghetto.
Before Britney left, her cheerleading pals made her promise -- for some reason that's never made clear -- to give up cheerleading forever. Soured by the move, Britney agrees. But as she starts spending more time at her new school, and enduring the crushing realization that she is no longer the big fish in the small pond, she looks to cheerleading once again.
This time, her cheer pals won't be as welcoming. Camille (Solange Knowles) is the hard-assed squad captain, and uninterested in bringing the new white girl into the fold. Britney's got the skills to pay the bills, though, and the squad convinces Camille to giver her a chance.
Now the new crew must put together the mother of all routines, if they are to triumph in the shifty, back-alley cheerleading competition, and best Britney's old school, and the dirtbag racists that populate it.
All or Nothing is the third entry into the franchise trail-blazed by Eliza Dushku and Kirsten Dunst. As far as I can tell, this movie has no relation to its predecessors, and thus is only a part of the Bring it On mythos in name only. Is there a Bring it On mythos? Ah, who cares. If you like sassy urban girls telling off white kids and dancing awesome, you'll like this movie.
Don't even bother with the story -- it's lame and derivative and more predictable than the outcome of a Knicks game (hint: the Knicks lose). You'll be able to map out the plot progression from the opening frame. Popular girl moves to rough, city school, is not popular anymore, eventually bonds with new school kids, they all find something in common with their love of cheerleading, then eventually smite the jerks from the rival school. There is no deviation from the boilerplate narrative and, yes, that makes storytelling utterly forgettable.
But that's not the point to these movies. I understand that. It's all about the dancing and new, sweet moves, and the big-ass finale at the end where the rival schools got toe-to-toe and the good guys unleash their awesome new routine. Throughout, expect some half-baked romances (including the obligatory raw, streetwise Hispanic dude forming a connection with the VW Bug-driving blonde protagonist), a pile of montages, and boatload of top 20 pop songs shoehorned into the mix (notably, the disturbing insertion of Gwen Stefani's "Holla Back Girl," which doesn't seem at all appropriate).
The choreography is appealing though. The filmmakers have introduced the idea of "crunk" dancing. I'm no musician, or even privy to the ebb and flow of hip hop culture, but this crunk stuff worked well on screen. Is it a practical application to the world of competitive cheerleading? Doubt it. Then again, the big finale took place in an abandoned warehouse, so practicality wasn't considered by the writers methinks. Basically, it looks good, energizes the dancing, and is about the only thing worthwhile in the entire film. The final cheer is laden with this crunk stuff, but the fact that our hero cheerleaders made it up on the spot and were able to slide into a lightning-quick costume change requires a generous amount of disbelief suspension.
The film looks and sounds fine. The 1.78:1 widescreen is anamorphic and looks clean. Dolby Digital 5.1 pushes the sound, which is of course heavy on the soundtrack, so more aggressive on the fronts, but who really cares; it's loud when it needs to be. A collection of brief extras in the bonus bin: a gag reel, "Behind the Cheers" making-of featurette, "Cheer Camp: From Wannabe to Cheerleader," which shows the actors' training, "Break it Down," a step-by-step how-to on the routines, and "From the Street to the Set," a bit of history on crunk.
This movie's not funny and not even close to original, but there's vim and vigor and those routines. The kinetic choreography should be enough to keep the female preteen masses entertained, even if the story sucks pompoms.
Give me a G! Give me a U! And so on and so forth.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Gag Reel
* "Behind the Cheers" Making-of Documentary
* "Cheer Camp: From Wannabe to Cheerleader"
* "Break it Down"
* "From the Street to the Set"