Bring It On

A movie about high school cheerleading must be either a joke or a jiggle-fest for lechers, right? Wrong: This engaging, high-spirited tale of back-stabbing on the competitive cheerleading circuit may not be as barbed a look at high school mores as, say, ELECTION, but it's fresh, clever and thoroughly charming. Perky, popular Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst)...read more

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

A movie about high school cheerleading must be either a joke or a jiggle-fest for lechers, right? Wrong: This engaging, high-spirited tale of back-stabbing on the competitive cheerleading circuit may not be as barbed a look at high school mores

as, say, ELECTION, but it's fresh, clever and thoroughly charming. Perky, popular Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) has just assumed the mantle of squad leader for San Diego's nationally acclaimed Rancho Carne Toros squad (the Toros themselves are the lamest high school football team around), and

to her horror, nothing is going right. On her first day in charge, Torrance loses a cheerleader to a broken leg, and the audition for a replacement is very grim indeed. Torrance is on the verge of rubber-stamping a hair-tossing, lip-glossed squad member's annoying younger sister when in

swaggers recent transfer student Missy Pantone (Eliza Dushku). Cute name notwithstanding, the black-clad Missy is no starry-eyed pom-pom pusher — she wouldn't even be trying out if Rancho Carne High had a gymnastics team. Torrance takes Missy anyway, only to have the new recuit announce that the

team's current routine, the one they were planning to take to the regional finals, was stolen from the East Compton Clovers, an inner-city L.A. squad. And it gets worse: The desperate Torrance hires a choreographer to work up a new number, a move that could get the Toros disqualified if they're

caught. And for the first time ever, the Clovers, led by the ambitious Isis (Gabrielle Union), are competing professionally and plan to kick the Toros' lily-white butts. Like CLUELESS, this sparkling trifle touches lightly on weighty matters — notably race/class privilege — without

trivializing them. It showcases a trio of talented young actresses, captures the exuberant athleticism of competitive cheerleading and positively exudes good-hearted charisma. Who could resist?

{