“This is not a democracy, it’s a cheerocracy.”
Bring It On owes a lot to both Clueless and Joss Whedon. It has that quality Clueless had of making vapid girls seem interesting and fun, plus the similar storyline of the pretty blonde falling for the smart brunette guy. The dialogue is pretty much a mix of teen speak influenced by Joss Whedon – someone watched a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer before writing this.
Torrance Shipman is a cheerleader on a national championship squad. When new girl Missy tries out for the team, Torrance discovers that her squad’s cheers have been stolen from an inner-city high school (she also discovers Missy’s cute, Clash-loving brother). As the new captain of the squad, Torrance has to find a way to retain her squad’s prowess without compromising their integrity, all while dealing with a long-distance cheater of a boyfriend and a squad of girls who would rather stab each other in the back and take the easy road than the right road.
The trick here is that Bring It On manages to poke fun at cheerleading in a way that highlights its weaknesses without being cruel and alternately celebrates it in a way. It takes some trickery to do that without becoming mean or nasty.
The real pleasure in Bring It On is its infinite quotability, particularly in a scene with Sparky, a choreographer the squad hires to do a last minute routine. Sparky admonishes the girls to do spirit fingers, as well as doing nothing but dealing in rudeness. The mileage people still get out of spirit fingers jokes is amazing, considering Bring It On is nine years old.
Even more amazing was how successful it was, considering that Bring It On really always has struck me as the red-headed cheerleader stepchild of Clueless. The movie’s spawned so many sequels that I’ve lost count of them; I think Hayden Panettierre was in one of them. I guess people have some sort of sick fascination with bitchy, snarky cheerleaders?
Regardless, Bring It On is fun, mainly for the relationship between Torrance and Missy’s character. The snappy and quick dialogue gives the characters more depth than at times they perhaps actually have. Jesse Bradford’s character, Cliff – Torrance’s romantic interest – is oddly endearing.
Bring It On has entered that odd pantheon of teenage movies that we seem to watch over and over again and with some reason. It’s an odd little high school comedy that stuck in our pop culture consciousness and has never left. I always find it entertaining no matter how many times I watch it.