Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's not Bring It On

Stick It. 5/19/06.

I was honestly excited to see Stick It; I wasn't expecting great cinema, but a fun gymnastics movie written and directed by Jessica Bendinger, the creator of Bring it On, sounded delightful last weekend. Unfortunately, I left the theater groaning "What were they thinking?" although I did so in amused high spirits. I actually managed, despite the fact that the film had giant flaws, to thoroughly enjoy myself at Stick It; though I wouldn't say it was a good movie by any definition of the term, I did leave the theater laughing heartily.

First of all, the highlight of the movie for me was the main character, played by Missy Peregrym. Like Eliza Dushku in Bring it On, her adorably alienated and vaguely butch character is enough to keep my interest throughout the movie. It's not often that you see a cute, tough girl who doesn't completely sell out in favor of pink and prom dresses. If only there had been even the slightest hint of sexual tension between her and one of the other gymnasts, I would have been a much bigger fan of this movie.

So, if you don't know, Stick It is the story of female gymnast Haley Graham (Peregrym), a champion-quality gymnast forced to return to the sport she abandoned as a far-fetched way to avoid a sentence for juvenile hall. After much bitterness, and thanks to creepy, patronizing (well, he was supposed to be fatherly) coach Burt Vickerman (played by Jeff Bridges), she regains her mastery of the sport and then leads a revolt at the championship meet to recapture the joy of gymnatics.

What made the movie a fiasco when we saw it may have been the fault of an inattentive and incompetant projectionist rather than the film itself. In my version of Stick It, the boom mic was the star of the show. He was in almost every scene, often causing other actors to duck out of the way to give him space to perform. He had a range of appearances and styles, but he always upstaged and outperformed the actors. The image was so badly framed that not only was the microphone in every scene, but the gymnastic routines were all truncated, completely marring the running gag of girls falling down because when they fell, they fell off the screen. Panoramic and overhead shots intended to showcase gymnastic skills Busby Berkeley-style were off-center and frequently half missing. I'm not sure proper framing would have made the moment in which gymnasts proliferate as if they were a kaleidoscope any less ridiculous, but it might have allowed me to concentrate on the complete insanity of the multiplying gymnasts rather than the stupidity of the director, editor, cameraperson, and/or projectionist who allowed such a thing to happen.

In my opinion, parts of this movie are appallingly bad. It is frequently trite and too unjustifiably proud of its own cleverness. But I had a wonderful time watching it nevertheless, and if you approach it with a sense of humor and low expectations, you might really enjoy Stick It.

Here are reviews by Dave White, who liked it, and Scott Tobias from The Onion AV Club, who did not. Judge for yourself.


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