Fired Up!

firedup

Movie review by Greg Carlson

Movies that resort to unnecessary punctuation in their titles, particularly exclamation points, ought to provide enough fair warning for discerning moviegoers. “Fired Up!” is trashy, pointless, and lacking in taste, but nobody needs reminding that it is also a PG-13 cheerleader sex comedy that blends elements of “Bring It On” (which might as well have used an exclamation point in its title) and earlier, much rowdier and raunchier flicks like “Animal House,” “Porky’s,” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” “Fired Up!” certainly doesn’t have anything new to say, even on the relatively uncomplicated subject of cheerleading, but the results should please moviegoers looking for a break from award season seriousness.

Anyone who does not fit the teen heterosexual male demographic will not take a rooting interest in protagonists Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D’Agosto, a dirty-minded and ever more foul-mouthed pair of priapic primates who outwardly assess all young women strictly in terms of the likelihood of a hook-up. Both lead actors – and a great deal of the other performers – would never pass for high school students. Sarah Roemer plays Carly, the one cheerleader who knows the boys are up to no good, and she does as much as she possibly can with her shaky material. “Fired Up!” is more buddy movie than romance (no matter how lustful), which unfortunately relegates the female cast members to bland blank slate status.

The screenplay of the movie is the first credited work of Freedom Jones, a moniker that sounds suspiciously like a pseudonym for a staff of scribes, so it is surprising that much of the writing consists of snappy sarcasm interspersed with the kind of inane, phony “slanguage” that imagines an alternate universe of how teenagers speak to one another. It is probably safe to say that few, if any, high school students would offer “You’ve got to risk it to get the biscuit” without running the risk of a beating, but then, movies in which horny football players decide to learn cheerleading in order to have easier access to potential conquests reside in the realm of pure fantasy.

Many of the featherweight popular cultural references will be passé by the time “Fired Up!” makes its appearance on DVD, but enough gags work effectively to guarantee a healthy afterlife for the movie once it disappears from theaters. “Fired Up!” pays tribute to pompon movie ground zero “Bring It On” during a sequence in which the entire cheerleading camp gathers for an outdoor showing of the Kirsten Dunst movie on the big screen, and every single line is recited back with the stunning accuracy of a much-repeated religious litany. John Michael Higgins is a blast as overzealous camp director Coach Keith, but the movie doesn’t find an effective way to use the talents of vets like Edie McClurg and Philip Baker Hall.

“Fired Up!” is not even a great representation of its derided genre, but as brainless sex comedies go, it surpasses many of its recent competitors. The music choices are on the nose, especially the clever selections meant to ridicule Carly’s lame boyfriend Dr. Rick (David Walton). In one scene, he pulls up in his convertible with Deep Blue Something’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” blaring, and audience members old enough to remember the song’s popularity in 1996 can smile knowingly at the character’s obliviousness.

This review was also published in the High Plains Reader the week of 2/23/09.

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