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Case Number 16747: Small Claims Court

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Fired Up

Sony // 2009 // 91 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // July 6th, 2009

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All Rise...

Appellate Judge Tom Becker is his own cheering section.

Editor's Note

Our review of Fired Up (Blu-Ray), published July 6th, 2009, is also available.

The Charge

2 Guys. 300 Girls. You Do the Math.

The Case

Actually, if you're capable of doing math like that, you might be too sophisticated for Fired Up, a silly, if amiable, sex comedy for the PG-13 crowd.

Despite being tall, handsome, and able to pass for 30, Nick (Eric Christian Olsen, Eagle Eye) and Shawn (Nicholas D'Agostino, Inside) are really just two average high school kids who are wildly successful at getting girls to have sex with them. In fact, their entire existences revolve around racking up numbers.

Having sown their oats with almost every girl at Gerald R. Ford High School, they decide to seek more fertile ground by joining the cheerleading squad and heading off to the female-centric cheerleading camp, Fired Up. There are, after all, 300 unspoilt (by them) girls there, from all over the country. Surprisingly—given that they are also football players—the girls on their own squad have also been able to resist their aged but adolescent charms, meaning that they get to discover a bunch of ladies who were in their own backyard all along. And what luck: Instead of Fired Up Cheerleading Camp being overrun with petite, athletic 15-year-olds, the girls here are buxom Amazons who, like the "boys," look to be long past the age of consent. Nick and Shawn can wench away the summer without any worries about that nasty "jailbait" stuff.

Ah, but other flies land in this oily ointment. After a few rounds of naked gymnastics, the boys suddenly find themselves changing. For one thing, they're actually good at cheering. Worse, the marginally more sensitive Shawn finds himself drawn to somber head cheerleader Carly (Sarah Roemer, Disturbia), despite the presence of her loutish boyfriend (David Walton, Heist).

Unless you've never seen a movie before, you can pretty much figure out the rest: boys become good teammates for girls, despite their original mission to just run through them like Mexican food on a hot day. Loutish boyfriend feels threatened, does something that makes Carly mad at the Shawn and causes the boys to go away. Boys leave, soul search, and come back in time for the big competition. Love and justice rule the day, and we're treated to outtakes over the closing credits.

Fired Up is a mish-mash of decades old low-ball sex comedies, with a heavy tip o' the hat to 2005's Wedding Crashers. It was saddled with a February release, always a one-way ticket to Palookaville, and a PG-13 rating, thus denying its core demographic the opportunity to sneak in to see it. All the actors are too old for their parts, and the jokes are older than Methuselah—including the driven-into-the-ground gag of people screaming out "F-U!" for Fired Up, a joke whose comedic possibilities Neil Simon exhausted when he named one half of The Odd Couple Felix Unger more than 40 years ago.

Cheerleaders around the world will be happy to know that Fired Up, despite its premise, is not a cheerleading movie. Although its existence seems owed, in part, to the success of Bring It On—a clip of which turns up here like a Hitchcock cameo—Fired Up could have been set on a naval base, at a rodeo, at a sales convention, or in a bomb shelter in London during the Blitz, provided these places had a large enough pool of water for people to strip to their underwear and splash around in. It's no more a cheerleading movie than Deep Throat was a cheerleading movie.

This all could have worked if Fired Up had been done as an all-out satire of the genre, like Wet, Hot American Summer. Instead, it reportedly took four writers—credited as "Freedom Jones"—to come up with this. Whether they actually worked together or went the Naked Came the Stranger route—everybody just tossing in a few pages separately—I don't know, but the hopping around from teen film to team film to smut film seems like the work of many hands and few heads.

While the set up, the female characters, and D'Agostino's Shawn all fit in that bad teen sex comedy way, Olsen is from another movie altogether. His Nick is a hackneyed combination of Bill Murray from Stripes, Tim Matheson and Peter Riegert from Animal House, and any other cool and hip post Saturday Night Live character from the past 30 years. His dialogue is a steady stream of misplaced cultural references from the latter half of the last century, most of which will fly over the heads of the high schoolers ("Yackety-Yak, look at that rack"). Olsen can actually be pretty funny—check out some of his stuff on funnyordie.com—but the material here is forced and unnatural sounding. This might have been the place for first-time director Will Gluck to have taken charge and reined the guy in for his own good.

Still, Fired Up is not a terrible experience. Olsen and D'Agostino work well together. They have a natural rapport that makes it believable that these two are lifelong co-horts. Roemer plays her part straight and really doesn't make much of an impression, but John Michael Higgins (For Your Consideration) is great as the head cheerleading coach at the camp, stealing every scene he's in. On the other hand, could someone please explain how AnnaLynne McCord, the standard-bearer of sexy for the now-coming-of-age Barney generation and the only bright spot in the sad 90210 remake, is relegated to a few minute walk-on as captain of a rival team? You actually could have built the entire film around the premise that the guys were going to cheerleader camp for the express purpose of trying to hook up with McCord. Instead, she just trots out every now and again as the mean rival, offers some tepid dialogue, and leaves. Truly a missed opportunity.

Sony gives Fired Up a good release, starting with the kind of solid tech you'd expect from a new movie. This disc gives us the "Unrated" version of Fired Up, and I'm guessing that the few seconds of bared breasts and occasional outbursts of profanity bump this out of the OK-for-Junior-High-and-up arena, but I'm not so sure. The couple of brief flashes of nudity aren't going to raise anything more than a couple of eyebrows, and I'm not an expert on the current profanity standards, but I know I've heard language just as bad on Rescue Me and Nip/Tuck, both of which are on basic cable channel F/X; I've also heard a really vulgar term for oral sex used on a couple of basic-cable Bravo programs.

For supplements, we get a surprisingly fun commentary track with Gluck, Olsen, and D'Agostino. Usually, these tracks are just filled with back slapping and nausea-inducing self-aggrandizing plus fascinating tidbits about such things as how nice all the co-stars were, what the weather was like during the shoot, and what a wonderful job the crew did. Fortunately, the Fired Up track is nothing like that. Gluck, Olsen, and D'Agostino spend most of their time riffing on the quality of the film, and their commentary is good natured and fun, touching on everything from the age discrepancies of the actors to the self-defeating PG-13. They even goof on the negative reviews Fired Up received. It's rare to hear a commentary like this, and it almost makes the disc worth a rental. Sony (again, thank you!) hooks up the commentary with subtitles, meaning you can watch the film and read the comments at the same time.

Elsewhere, we have a goofy "making of," some goofy outtakes, a goofy look at the well-employed stunt doubles, and a goofy interview segment about what happens when a reporter mistakenly refers to Fired Up as a cheerleading movie.

The Verdict

More run-of-the-mill than run-for-the-hills, Fired Up is a middling comedy that passes the time but little more.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 73

Perp Profile

Studio: Sony
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Genres:
• Comedy
• Sports

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurettes
• Bloopers

Accomplices

• IMDb
• Official Site
• Funny or Die








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