Judge David Johnson once got nailed in the face with a volleyball. Lots of people laughed. Maybe it was because of the blood. Or the weeping.
In life, some lines need to be crossed.
Like, you so didn't just get up all in my side of the net, did you?! You best be steppin', girl, unless you want to tussle. Nobody fronts on my cross-court shot. Bee-yatch.
Facts of the Case
The Madonnas and the Phantoms are arch-rivals. Their volleyball matches are the stuff of legend: the crowd is frenzied, the game play is top-shelf, and the girls would rather jam their eyeliner in each other's eye sockets than give up a kill. The schools' last meeting took place at the state championships, were the Madonnas ultimately lost.
But just as the next season is ready to go, tragedy comes knocking: the Madonnas' school burns to the ground, and the Phantoms' star player, Gabby (Adrienne Bailon) is stunned to discover her loving, firefighter father was killed in the blaze.
With the new school year comes many changes. Three of the Madonnas, Kaitlin (Taylor Cole), Lauren (Sarah Mason) and Becca (popster Ciara), enroll in the Phantoms' school and join the volleyball squad, much to the chagrin of the current Phantoms, and a rivalry immediately flares up. And when you throw the school stud into the mix, the firebomb blows up, leading to hateful confrontations, limited hair-pulling, lame practical jokes involving urine, lots of stepping up, and a narcotic frame-up.
Can these funky divas learn to gel as a team in time to defend their crown?
If anything feels like a tailored-for-TRL bubblegum romp it's this movie. All You've Got, like its straightforward title would suggest, is boilerplate Hoosiers-lite fare. Just replace a gang of misfit boys who play basketball and don't get along with a gang of misfit girls who play volleyball and don't get along. Add more sidekicks than you can shake a stuck at and a few too-clingy tank-tops and you've got a finely tuned feel-good movie that follows the textbook plays of the genre to a T.
Nothing here will surprise you. The filmmakers have opted to go the safe route, choosing only to spice up the well-trodden narrative path with pop music, over-saturation of warm colors and very attractive people with attitudes the size of the Florida panhandle. While there are hints at interesting elements to be explored, invariably the film shifts into the old-hat sports movie territory.
For example, there's some stuff lurking under the surface with regards to culture clashes. Gabby's family is Spanish, and the beginning of the film gives us tastes of the family and culture. The only other family we really get to see is Lauren's, a well-to-do white couple that, thankfully, isn't stereotyped as the typical close-minded snot-noses who don't want anything to do with "those" people. Actually, these two are given little to do, except push their daughter to success, and a few deleted scenes detailing this over-competitiveness points to the director's change of heart. The result is a diversity-wannabe plot detail that doesn't go anywhere.
The meat of the story presents itself in the relationships between the warring girls. Primarily you've got Lauren and Gabby going at it, with their boy toy as the flame tossed into the tinderbox. And then on a lesser level, you've got Becca and Gabby, with their differences stemming more from volleyball. Translation: there's a whole lot of bitching and dance club confrontations. The tension crests in over-the-top fashion when Becca starts slipping mickeys into her rival's drinks. The only stabilizer in all of this is the girls' common desire to win the state championship and certainly not the coach (Faizon Love) who looks like he'd rather be anywhere but on the court breaking up near-cat-fights.
But have no fear, everyone eventually makes nice in the end and comes together just in time. You will no doubt have seen this climax approaching 90 minutes away at the opening credits. And because the game scenes are filmed with little drama (but plenty of hollow panache), the suspense is nil. The final scene, where we learn about the destinies of each character (one became a Harvard professor, one became a wildly successful New York fashion designer, all of them won Olympic gold medals) is so ridiculous that it almost injects enough unintentional humor to elevate this thing beyond mediocre. Almost.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is decent, but the sweaty color levels—a stylistic choice—make it look too slick for my taste. Both a Spanish and English 5.1 surround mix powers the sound, though the action is front-loaded; the hip hop soundtrack does get some love. Bonus features include a making-of documentary and loads of cast interviews. Some deleted scenes and a few odd advertising volleyball spots (one brought to you by tampons) finish things off.
Hey, this might be what a gaggle of teenage girls might dig, but this 29-year-old male reviewer would sooner take a kill to the nose bridge than sit through one more round of this derivative estrogen-laden volleyball saga.
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• Making-of Feature
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