Sony // 2009 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // July 6th, 2009
2 Guys. 300 Girls. You Do the Math.
It's funny, but two of our culture's symbols of young sexuality (the high school cheerleader and football player) both spend a more than typical amount of time getting sweaty and physical with members of the same sex, which is not the most heterosexual thing to do. I'm not the only one to realize this, as numerous jokes have been made about football players and their ass-grabbing antics as well as the digs in But I'm a Cheerleader. Well now we have Fired Up, a film that takes the gender dynamics of football and cheerleading to heart, giving us a heartwarming tale of a couple of ladies' men who join the cheerleading squad to get laid. Although it won't shock fans of raunchy comedy, Fired Up is a surprisingly good look at young love and gender stereotypes wrapped up in a post-American Pie sex comedy.
Nick (Eric Christian Olsen, Eagle Eye) and Shawn (Nicolas D'Agosto, Extreme Movie) are both football players dreading the upcoming football camp which will mean weeks in the heat without any women to chase. Because they've all but depleted the reserve of new girls at their high school, they decide to ditch football camp when they learn that their cheerleading squad is going to a camp that will feature three hundred young women. The boys worm their way onto the team and into the camp, and once there proceed to sleep with just about anything that moves. Things would be great, except Nick starts to fall for one of the girls from his school, and the pair find themselves actually becoming good cheerleaders.
I went into Fired Up with the lowest of low expectations. It looked like another sexist American Pie rip-off that would be long on shots of girls' bottoms and short on actual jokes. I came out of the film with a grudging respect. Yes, it had all the loving shots of nubile young women I'd expected, but it also had a surprisingly gentle heart and a good message.
For those just interested in the nubile young women, Fired Up certainly delivers. Although even the unrated cut is short on nudity, the film doesn't shy away from showing scantily clad athletic bodies gyrating in various gymnastic moves. However, the cheerleading isn't just an excuse to have half-naked women running around. Several of the scenes show off the crazy athleticism necessary for top-flight cheerleading. Although it's a little shorter on the mechanics of cheering than say Bring it On, the film still has enough cheering to satisfy fans of the sport.
Most of the comedy comes from the expected "fish out of water" scenes of having a couple of horny football players running around a three hundred woman strong cheer camp. There's also the requisite gay cheerleading guy, as well as the expected guys who take cheering seriously. As the film goes on, the guys get gradually more and more interested in cheering, and much of the humor comes from their increasing competence with the moves. There's also a lot of horn-dog centered humor, as the guys conquer an increasingly larger percentage of the camp's population before setting their sights on two particular girls.
The actual plot itself is a little tired, but executed well. Of course after seducing many of the girls, one of them falls for a teammate while the other falls for an "unattainable" counselor. Naturally, the teammate is dating a total jerk, which the boys soon discover, but they can't say anything because she won't believe them. This of course puts them in an awkward position. Also, before they got to camp, the boys were going to leave a week early to hang out at a friend's dad's empty house. When they realize they care about the team they decide to blow it off but their initial treachery is discovered, and they have to prove themselves to the team again. It's a totally obvious plot, but the chemistry between the two leads keeps it fresh. Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D'Agosto are fantastic as Nick and Shawn. They switch off playing the straight man and their timing is impeccable. The rest of the cast do an excellent job as well, especially Philip Baker Hall as the football coach and Juliette Goglia as Nick's little sister.
As a Blu-ray disc, Fired Up gets full marks. The video is crisp and detailed, with lots of bright, sunny scenes that show off good saturation. Some of the darker moments are well-rendered, with no noise or problems with the blacks. The audio keeps the dialogue audible and the soundtrack has a nice thump to it.
For extras we get an audio commentary with the director and his male leads where the group discusses the production and how poorly the film did theatrically. There's also a typical making-of documentary, and some extra interview footage with the stars. There's also a gag reel, and a scene from the press junket where the stars go off on a reporter to humorous effect. Finally, there's a digital copy of the film on a second disc for portable players.
All things considered Fired Up! is a pretty good movie for those familiar with recent sex-comedy conventions. However, those looking for original filmmaking should probably go elsewhere, since Fired Up! doesn't hold too many surprises. It's aimed pretty squarely at young men, so those who don't want to see a bunch of scantily clad women bounce around for most of 90 minutes would do well to avoid this particular film.
Fired Up didn't do much business theatrically, and that's unfortunate. It's a solid comedy with strong performances and funny dialogue. It won't quite join the ranks of But I'm a Cheerleader or Bring it On, but it's a solid little film that deserves a bigger audience.
Fired Up doesn't fizzle. Not guilty.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (Basque)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (French)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Gag Reel
* Digital Copy