Bring It!

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Oh I have no shame, but plenty of it at the same time, in admitting that I have seen all five Bring It On movies, concluding with the fifth one just today. I know, it's shameful. I do. I have good taste in movies for the most part, and I primarily watch the BIO films with fascination in the same way that I do a 'dance' film (for the routines!), plus they're minefields for starlet cameos. In fact many people who have been in BIO films end up going to have solid acting careers.

I won't preface this post much more other than saying that yes, I will explain how and why I've seen all five, and that the one I remember the least is the third one, so forgive any inaccuracies as I move all time Bring It On ranking! And if you've never seen the films and don't want to be spoiled, do not read on.

Starting with the worst...

5) Bring It On: Fight To The Finish (#5)
The Conflict: Latin Ghetto & Geeks vs. Snobby Pros (debatably a class conflict)
Notable Faces: Christina Milian, Nikki Soohoo (of Lovely Bones and Stick It),
I just watched this movie today (and earlier this week, I can't take too much cheer in one sitting) starring Christina Milian, the pop singer, as the head cheerleader Catalina (Lina). Go free movie channel previews from my cable provider! Anyway Lina starts out in East LA as a Cuban-American ghetto fabulous hoodrat head cheerleader. No joke, the stereotypes are out of control up in herre. Anyway apparently her gold-digging (I kid) mom has married a white man named Henry and the Lina is off to Malibu to live in a dream house that appears to use the sets from Clueless and The OC, leaving behind her East LA squad to perish (note the Lea Michele of Glee fame cameo as an extra in the opening sequences!).

In Malibu, apparently the majority of the school's best cheerleaders have formed their own 'All Star' league that practices across the street, leaving Lina to coach a ragtag team of second rate brainy cheerleaders. She recruits her own sistahs from the hood and they start to whip the team into shape, only to be sabotaged. Of course Lina is interested in the brother of the head bitch, Avery, from the other team, although Avery doesn't do much to sabotage their relationship, weirdly. Anyway Lina manages to overcome all odds and basically make the majority of the mini-conflicts in the film null and void and by the end of the movie, the Malibu Dream Team wins.

Look, I'm not expecting a Bring it On film to be filled with much substance, but the two reasons why one watches a BIO film - the cheering and the laughable scriptwriting - were sincerely lacking. Compared to the other films I felt like we barely got to witness a full routine (although the tumbling on the day 1 preliminaries of the all star championships was bananas), and the final two routines didn't have the wow factor, or weren't filmed as interestingly as the past films. Plus Lina's whole ghetto fab attitude and wardrobe was distracting and annoying, and also a little cringeworthy given how heavily they played on latin stereotypes. Also there was a lack of cheerleading puns, which is never a good thing in the BIO world.

4) Bring It On Again (#2)
Conflict: Popular Prepsters vs. Artsy Outcasts
Familiar Faces: Bethany Joy Galeotti (of One Tree Hill) plays a ditzoid wannabe head cheerleader and Felicia Day (of Buffy and Dollhouse) plays an artsy outsider on the renegade squad.

I saw this movie, and the fourth one, because they had a Bring it On marathon on MuchMusic in the last year. Fun! Okay, so BIO has graduated to college. Whittier and her pal Monica get inducted into the school's prestigious cheer squad, and are taken under the wing of alpha female Tina. However, Whittier has a thing for a random DJ that Tina doesn't approve of, and Monica and Tina butt heads, which eventually gets both girls cast off the team. Determined to prove the prepsters wrong, Whittier and Monica start their own rival league made up of various outcasts from the other arts clubs that have been thwarted in the school - drama, dance, etc. - because the cheerleading squad is sucking up all the funding. Once again, the underdogs win it.

This will sound so terrible, but my main issue with this film is the fact everyone looks SO WRONG. For leading ladies, Whittier and Monica are kind Whittier's leading man is a BIG NO. Tina also doesn't really fit the hot cheerleader mould. If they were doing a film on getting into a country club, then yes, Tina makes sense, but her restrained pearl-wearing persona just didn't match up with the aggressive cheer spirit these films are supposed to be about. I also have a fundamental problem with the team Whittier and Monica create. Without exception, in the other films the two rival teams are actual professional teams (although the 'Sea Lions' in the fifth film are supposed to be terrible, they catch on pretty quick). In this instance, the new members of the renegade team are impossibly good given the short timeframe, and I recall thinking this was one instance where their routine was *not* as good as the defending champions, yet they still won. Overall though the cheering and terrible scriptwriting was more enjoyable so I give this one a slightly better ranking than #5.

Bring It On: All Or Nothing
The Conflict: Old Loyalties vs. New Ties and Class Conflicts!
Familiar Faces: Hayden Panettiere (of Heroes fame) and Solange Knowles (Beyonce's little sis), plus Rihanna is giving away computers!

It's funny, while I was watching 'Fight to the Finish' today, I literally thought out this plot in my head and thought "Hm, it would have been so much more interesting had they done things *this* way" only to realize it was the plot of the middling Bring It On: All or Nothing. In reverse of the fifth film, prepster Britney (Hayden Panettiere) is sent to the 'ghetto' after her dad loses his job and all of their money. Nothing like poor economic times to make a peppy movie full of spirit!

Anyway, at the new school she is marginalized by the team's domineering head cheerleader, Camille (Solange Knowles) and greatly misses her old frenemy Winnie and her boyfriend Brad. Frustrated with her social standing at her new school, Britney decides to skip a game the team is supposed to cheer at to go to a dance at her old school. Big mistake. Camille finds out and kicks Brit off the team, and her supposed pals at her old school are anything but - apparently Winnie and Brad have been boinking since her departure, and no one is really missing Little Miss Spirit.

Although she isn't on the team, Britney still attends the competition to win a guest spot in a Rihanna music video and free computers for her school, wherein she wishes her former teammates, the Pirates, good luck. When they embarrass her and she stands up for her former new teammates, the Warriors, Camille invites Britney back into the fold. They realize the Pirates are going to kick their a$$ until Britney suggests they start krumping, impromptu, in a mirror image of what the Pirates are doing. This isn't a real cheerleading competition, obviously, nor is it reality as per their pitch perfect performance. Rihanna likes their "ghetto" moves and declares the Warriors the winners!

Like I said, I don't remember this film so much, other than thinking Solange Knowles hair was jacked up and Hayden Panettiere has a really funny, stubby, gym body. My distinct memories of the other four films puts it in the middle though, plus I love a good Rihanna cameo.

2) Bring It On: In It To Win It
The Conflict: Straight up cheer bitchery, and I think something to do with East Coast vs. West Coast. Plus one boy's struggle to be a cheerleader instead of a martial artist.
Familiar Faces: Ashley Benson (mean girl Hanna on Pretty Little Liars), Jennifer Tisdale (Ashley Tisdale's sister), Michael Copon (Felix from One Tree Hill)

It's summertime which can only mean one thing: cheer camp! At a theme park! With two rival squads - the Sharks and the Jets (hah) - fighting for supremacy so they can represent Cheer Camp Spirit-Thunder at the Cheer Camp Championships! Plenty of cheer hilarity ensues, including a poolside cheer-off, the return of the legendary Spirit Stick, and a cheer rumble that results in injuries all around. After letting their rivalry get the best of them, it appears neither team at Spirit-Thunder will go the Cheer Camp Champs, until they decide to put their differences aside to form a new squad, 'The Shets' (with merged uniforms), to go head-to-head with Camp Victory's main team, 'The Flamingos'. Once again, the star team wins, and once again I thought the other team had better moves for the most part.

Regardless of which, this movie had tons of the things that make a good BIO film - cheesy scriptwriting and cheerleading. The tortured romance between Penn (Michael Copon) and Carson (Ashley Benson) was laughably drawing on West Side Story, and Penn's storyline of needing his friends to raise money so he could go to camp under his dad's nose was hilarious. I felt like the final competition lacked the buzz level of some of the other finales - it's a summer competition with only two teams! - but the fact they didn't try to do an underdog story of ragtag cheerleaders vs. pro cheerleaders helped. So did the fun theme park setting. I want to go to cheer camp if it means spending a few weeks at a theme park dammit!

1) Bring It On (#1)
The Issue: Privilege vs. Heart
Familiar Faces: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Gabrielle Union, the gals of 3LW

Was there any question? I mean really. The original film was by the far the best, filled with tons of terrible scriptwriting, a sisterhood-esque bond mixed with cheer bitchery, a relatively acceptable level of cute romance, and fantastic cheerleading throughout. Plus kudos to the creators for not letting the Toros win (even though I dug their routine more - but thought the other team had better tumbling), in a 'My Best Friend's Wedding' kind of twist that the other films have yet to revisit. You were cheering equally for the Clovers and the Toros in some ways, another plus over the other films. Everything also (logically) feels bigger - the final showdown has a pro feel that the other films don't ever come close to matching (given their smaller budgets) which gives this film a definite leg up.

Plus the dorky script is given life by the actors who make the most of what they're given. Kirsten Dunst does with this film what Reese Witherspoon did with 'Legally Blonde', in taking a vapid, thankless role and making it hilarious, memorable, and endearing. There's simply no comparing the endless string of sequels here, and for all the cringeworthy moments this film contains, it's still a millenial classic that any girl will confess to watching when it pops up on cable one quiet Sunday night.

- Britt's (bringing it!) On


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