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Bring it on (Collector's Edition) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 February 2001

Bring It On

Universal Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: PG-13
starring: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union
release year: 2000
film rating: Three Stars
sound/picture: Three Stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

"Bring It On" sounds like either a parody or a straight sexploitation film. Surprise: it’s actually a peppy, smart comedy – one that happens to be filled with high-school cheerleaders.

Cheerleading is already Torrance Shipman’s (Kirsten Dunst) life when she’s elected captain of her school’s squad in her senior year. Although the football team sucks, the Toro cheerleaders have won the national championship five times running. Kirsten ought to be able to coast in the leadership position – until she discovers that the former cheer captain stole the team’s triumphant routines from the East Compton Clovers. Worse, the Clovers are aware of the theft and aren’t going to let it slide any longer.

There are a lot of charms to "Bring It On," starting with the film’s healthy, playful sense of perspective. Writer Jessica Bendinger keeps Torrance sympathetic and credible, while allowing people around her (including her new best friend, who has transferred from another school and takes up cheerleading because gymnastics is not available) to observe that there’s a larger world outside of cheerleading. Director Peyton Reed has a sense of humor and a sense of rhythm, both crucial here. The filmmakers manage the neat trick of investing in Torrance’s urgency without making her cartoonish, yet still showing the amusing side of the situation and indulging in just the right amount of exaggeration for effect.

The cheer routines are creative, impressive and occasionally even exhilarating. Well before the film ends, we’re prepared to accept the argument that cheering – as practiced here – is indeed a valid athletic activity. They are, of course, also very eye-catching, due to the exuberance and the attractiveness of the participants. A "special features" selection has "home movie" footage purportedly shot by various visitors to the set on the day when the bikini car wash (a team fundraiser) sequence was filmed. Again, Reed adroitly allows us to admire the physiques of the many attractive young women in the film without making the proceedings feel unduly exploitative.

The DTS soundtrack has punch and depth, creating a good sense of environment from the outset. A huge, cheering audience in Chapter 1 seems to surround us, putting us in the center with the cheerleaders (whose opening routine is verbally hilarious, summing up every preconception the viewer may have). Chapter 3 has very realistic vehicular sounds, moving a car straight through the listening field, and has a powerful kick as the soundtrack music amps up. Chapter 4 spreads the rock ‘n’ roll evenly through fronts and rears during a cheerleader workout. Chapter 8 lets a hard-rocking anthem blister through the fronts and mains, and has a most unexpected (and therefore all the more effective) audio shock effect, scaring both Torrance and us as a flashback ensues. Chapter 9 has all kinds of interesting, enveloping details, from footballers stampeding over a field to thundering, deliberately screeching onscreen guitar practice, tapering delicately to a well-modulated near-silence. A more ominous silence in Chapter 13, following an onscreen humiliation, has beautifully nuanced echoes. Chapter 18 showcases the subwoofer with an emphatic, driving beat.

The director’s audio commentary is amiable. Apparently anticipating being reviewed in the Audio Revolution, Reed helpfully points out at the outset that the commentary is being recorded on a Sannheiser MK-40 mike with a low-end roll-off. Other extras include deleted scenes, which have onscreen introductions by the director rather than simultaneous commentary, along with some extended scenes and a music video. One goodie that requires no trip to the menu is the footage under the end credits of the whole cast lip-synching the kitsch pop hit "Mickey."

"Bring It On" is good fun that manages to be lively and light without insulting anybody’s intelligence. Like cheerleading, it’s harder than it looks, but the makers of "Bring It On" manage to pull it off.

more details
sound format:
English DTS 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
aspect ratio(s):
1.85:1 (Widescreen)
special features: Making-Of Featurette; Feature-Length Audio Commentary with Director Peyton Reed; Deleted Scenes with Director Introduction; Extended Scenes; Home Movies of Carwash Scene; Wardrobe and Makeup Tests; Animated Anecdotes; Blaque "As If" Music Video; English Closed-Captioning; DVD-ROM Features; Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

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