***1/2 (out of 5)
February 20, 2009
Nicholas D’Agosto as SHAWN COLFAX
Eric Christian Olsen as NICK BRADY
Sarah Roemer as CARLY
Molly Sims as DIORA
Danneel Harris as BIANCA
David Walton as DR. RICK
Studio: Screen Gems
Directed by: Will Gluck
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I have to admit, from a strictly biological angle, there is a certain reason that I will always have a certain love for cheerleader movies, even the dreadful “Bring It On” sequels that have plowed through the DVD shelves over the past few years. Call me crazy, but as a red-blooded American male, I enjoy watching hot girls in skimpy outfits jump around on the movie screen.
So, you’ll understand when I say that I really enjoyed watching “Fired Up.”
But like the first “Bring It On,” which was fresh and fun when it was first released eight and a half years ago, “Fired Up” also is a funny film that tells an endearing story. It’s loaded with cliches and jokes that we’ve seen many times before, but as a slice of light, mainstream cinema, it works.
The big difference between “Fired Up” and the other cheerleader movies (mainly those direct-to-DVD “Bring It On” sequels I was talking about earlier) is that this one is told from a guy’s point of view. Rather than telling the been-there-done-that stories of a cheer squad going up against a rival team, this film takes a more testosterone-evident approach.
Shawn and Nick (Nicholas D’Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen) are football players who are dreading a trip to football camp in El Paso, Texas. As players off the field as well as on, they decide to join the cheerleading squad and spend three weeks at cheer camp, where they have the opportunity to score with 300 girls also attending the camp. However, after being there for a few weeks, they get caught up in the team spirit and realize that there might be more to these cheerleaders – and the sport itself.
Ultimately, the set-up for “Fired Up” is nothing more than “Wedding Crashers” in a “Bring It On” setting. Shawn is the Owen Wilson character, a scoundrel who is ultimately looking for love. Nick is the Vince Vaughn character, the consummate philanderer who finds himself in the more awkward situations.
“Fired Up” isn’t as funny as “Wedding Crashers,” but with this approach, it can appeal a little more outside of the “Bring It On” demographic. This isn’t just a chick flick considering the humor is a bit more raunchy and the heroes can speak to the horny teenage boy side of things.
And even though there is plenty of inappropriate humor that can make the guys in the audience laugh, there’s quite a bit of heart in the film. Unlike those sometimes dreadful “Bring It On” sequels, the movie doesn’t get weighted down by too much hip-hop coolness and gives us somewhat vulnerable characters that are just living their lives rather than hyping up a cheerleader squad feud.
The cast makes this film very watchable, from the leads to the smaller roles. Sarah Roemer plays the main love interest, the captain of the cheerleading squad and possibly the only girl at camp who sees through Shawn and Nick’s pseudo-romantic b.s. Like many of the other girls in the film, she’s very easy on the eyes, and you might remember her from the thriller “Distubia” a few years back. Fortunately for Roemer, she offers a bit more than a pretty face, which was really her only attribute on “Disturbia.” She actually gives a character performance, albeit somewhat cliche, in “Fired Up.”
Still, it’s the supporting cast that provides the glue – from the lesbian-curious cheerleader couple to the edgier cheerleader who says some off-the-wall things to add comic relief. And the veteran actors Philip Baker Hall as the foul-mouthed football coach and John Michael Higgins as the overly excited cheer camp counselor provide some comedic diversity in the cast.
Like the other cheerleading films, the female audience members should enjoy the movie. And with its PG-13 eye candy and somewhat raunchy humor, their boyfriends and husbands should find something to enjoy as well.