Bring It On

on August 25, 2000 by Wade Major
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The world of competitive high school cheerleading forms the backdrop for the wonderfully stupid "Bring it On," a film that succeeds more accidentally than intentionally, finally stumbling across the finish-line without much grace, but finishing nonetheless.

Kirsten Dunst brings her real-life cheerleading experience to bear as Torrance Shipman, the newly-appointed cheerleading squad captain whose duty it is to help maintain her San Diego high school's long string of national championships. Her task, however, is complicated by personality conflicts within the squad, the addition of a talented but temperamental new girl, Missy Pantone (Eliza Dushku of TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), and budding feelings for Missy's older brother Cliff (Jesse Bradford). As if things weren't already bad enough, Torrance then discovers that her predecessor stole most of their championship routines from the squad of a Los Angeles inner city school, now captained by the ferociously determined and resentful Isis ("Love and Basketball's" Gabrielle Union).

With time running out before the two teams meet at the national championships, Torrance and her squad devote their energies to doing the impossible--devising a new routine from scratch that will help restore the school's reputation and salvage their wounded pride.

More "Showgirls" than "Clueless," "Bring It On" is the kind of dim-witted fun that's almost impossible to critique. For as much as it fails on every conceivable level as a movie, the fact that it never really knows how bad it is gives it an almost irresistibly idiotic charm. Key to whatever marginal success the film may enjoy is the assemblage of a very talented cast, with Dushku and Union the most noteworthy standouts. Together and separately, they quite literally make "Bring it On" a better film whenever either of them is on screen, wringing dignity and drama from characters so scantily-written it's a wonder they even have names.

Dunst, meanwhile, is pleasantly diverting in yet another variation on her "Dick" and "Drop Dead Gorgeous" performances, though it's clear that her talents are not best served by such repetition. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford and Gabrielle Union. Directed by Peyton Reed. Written by Jessica Bendinger. Produced by Marc Abraham, Thomas A. Bliss and John Ketcham. A Universal release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for sex-related material and language. Running time: 98 min

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