Universal // 2007 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 24th, 2007
Go to Universal Studios theme park!
The fourth entry in the cheer franchise that apparently still has legs (rim shot!) follows the scripted formula of rival cheer squads that wear too much makeup, bust out sick aerial maneuvers only at the Big Competition, snap their fingers in each other's faces, learn very important life lessons, and wear painted-on shorts.
This movie stars young, perky blonde girls with names like "Carson" and "Brooke" and "Chelsea." They all wear way too much make-up and talk like they lifted their dialogue straight from a Sweet Valley High book. And they cheer. Oh how they cheer. The rival cheerleading squads from opposite coasts, the Sharks and the Jets (get it?) have descended on cheer camp held at beautiful Universal Studios in Florida which is beautiful and awesome and affordable for families! Their goal: to vie for some kind of sweet championship against the evil Flamingos squad.
But before they get to that level, the Sharks and the Jets will have to work through their own problems, which include the theft of a supposedly cursed cheer stick and an illicit romance between members of the opposing teams.
I'm not sure how I became the official Bring it On ambassador for DVD Verdict, but better than me than anyone else I guess. So, here's the cheat sheet for this sequel (the fourth in the series): Whatever your first impression, trust it.
You think this is going to be a corny, hipster, dance-filled teen comedy? You're right. How about a sequel that recycles bits from the previous films as well as all the other "spry young people competing in an athletic event of some sort" movies? Yep, that's right. Or maybe you're thinking: Hmmm, my daughter would probably really like this movie but everyone looks like rejected applicants from an MTV reality series and the humor might be a little too edgy for my 12 year-old. Hey, you're right too!
In It to Win It has energy to spare and it's rich in that bubblegum pop atmosphere that will certainly give it appeal to a certain demographic. Plus, the choreography is active and enjoyable to watch and there are pockets of wit lurking within the script. Oh and of course you'll get a blunt life lesson about putting aside differences with your sworn enemy and joining to take on an even sworner enemy.
But that's all the accolades I can muster up. This spunk-fest is a shallow confection of pancaked make-up and streamlined thighs, its narrative trajectory as predictable as the forward flip of one of the male cheerleaders. The familiar teeny-bop-sports-movie beats are all present and accounted for all the way to the climactic finale, where you'll be guaranteed to map out the first, second, and third-place finishers in the mega cheer competition.
Then there's the whole "West Side Story" angle. It's clumsily handled and often bizarre; one night, the Sharks and Jets square off on the downtown street of a city set and snap their fingers and dance around and it all just seems like amateur hour. The star-crossed romance angle is just as unsubtle and hokey.
Finally, I don't want to sound like a Puritanical spinster or anything, but the humor is strong on the sexual innuendo, and a lot edgier than what I expected. Granted, the handful of raunchy jokes pale in comparison to the normal banter found on the hallways of most junior high schools, but it stood out to me as a PG-13 wholly inappropriate for younger viewers.
The technical presentation gets a thumbs up. For video, the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is clean and quite stunning in its vibrant color work. The 5.1 mix is nice and loud and comes in English, French, and Spanish versions. For the extras, you get some deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and a slew of "learn-to-cheer" tutorials from choreographer Tony G.
Same old, same old: attractive girls getting up in each other's grilles and talking smack about their cheerleading prowess, now with a half-baked Broadway twist and 15% more twirls. The series has gas in the tank for more sequels, sure, but I'm about ready to Leave it Alone.
Stick this pom-pom where the sun don't shine.
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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: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Learn How to Cheer
* Review - Bring it On
* Review - Bring it On: All or Nothing