Director : Will Gluck
Screenplay : Freedom Jones
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Year of Release : 2009
Stars : Nicholas D’Agosto (Shawn Colfax), Eric Christian Olsen (Nick Brady), Sarah Roemer (Carly), Molly Sims (Diora), Danneel Harris (Bianca), David Walton (Dr. Rick), Adhir Kalyan (Brewster), AnnaLynne McCord (Gwyneth), Juliette Goglia (Poppy), Philip Baker Hall (Coach Byrnes), John Michael Higgins (Coach Keith)
Judging from the amount of bleeping during the outtakes at the end of Fired Up!, a teen-animal comedy about a couple of jocks who get in touch with their inner pompoms while trying to score with the short-skirted set at a cheerleading camp, it is a sure thing that there will be an unrated DVD release, which is unfortunate because the film’s one genuine charm is its ridiculous and clever use of nonsensical words and phrases to discuss R-rated material under the PG-13 umbrella (it’s like Jean Shepherd rewriting a Kevin Smith movie). In fact, the film’s vocabulary, which is credited to first-time screenwriter Freedom Jones (which must be a made-up name for a group of writers), is so integral to what little pleasure the film has to offer that it will be a real shame if and when it is replaced with more typical four-lettered variants.
As mentioned, the story revolves around two high school football players and best buds, Shawn and Nick (Nicholas D’Agosto, who looks like a young Scott Baio, and Eric Christian Olsen, who looks like a young Thomas Hayden Church). They are already renowned for their prowess with seducing virtually every girl in their school, and the fact that D’Agosto and Olsen manage to make us forget from time to time just how sleazy their characters are is some kind of testament to their acting abilities, even if neither is able to fully convince us of their unsurprising third-act turnaround when they recognize that endless one-night stands with airy, manipulated coeds is not the path to true happiness. Nevertheless, the plot is set in motion when they decide against going to summer football camp in the desert heat of El Paso and instead worm their way onto the school’s cheerleading squad for the sole purpose of spending three weeks at cheerleading camp surrounded by 300 unconquered girls.
All is going according to plan until Shawn, the more outwardly sensitive of the two teen cretins, finds himself falling for Carly (Sarah Roemer), the team captain who happens to be the one girl who doesn’t swoon at all of his cheap one-liners and smarmy come-ons. This would seem to qualify her as the one girl in the entire film who has a brain, but her relative intelligence is muted by her relationship with long-time boyfriend Rick (David Walton), a truly repulsive (and admittedly inspired) cad who wears his freshman-college status like a crown and insists on being called “Dr. Rick” because he’s pre-med and, as he puts it, “Why put off the inevitable?” He also has an irritating tendency to refer to Carly by all kinds of silly pet names like “Carlyhorse,” and, of course, he’s also two-timing her, a fact of which Shawn is all too aware. Nick, on the other hand, has set his sights on Diora (Molly Sims), the wife of the camp’s head coach (John Michael Higgins), who treats his job too seriously and his sexual identity too ambiguously.
That, however, is the only thing taken seriously in Fired Up!. Its brash objectification of women and glorification of adolescent male lust is coated with a thin veneer of whiplash humor and speedfreak pacing that keeps the story moving forward at such a brisk pace that you don’t realize how ugly it is until it’s over (the pseudo-sensitive ending helps, as well, although Nick remains relatively unscathed into the final credits). Most of the jokes, aside from their clever phrasing, are relatively threadbare, including an overeager gay Indian (Adhir Kalyan) who shares the guys’ dorm room. However, there are a few comedic highlights, including Shawn’s no-nonsense younger sister (Juliette Goglia) who is frighteningly assured for her age and a scene in which the cheer camp watches Bring It On (1999) and recites every single word. Not just the funny lines or memorable phrases, but every single word. Director Will Gluck (whose opening credit “A Film By” must be a joke) is surely hoping that the next generation of cheerleaders will see his film similarly, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Copyright ©2009 James Kendrick
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