March 13, 2009

Not So Fired Up!: Teen Flick Fails On All Fronts

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There is a strangely “meta-” scene in Fired Up!, which is curious, because it is highly doubtful that the scriptwriters of this latest brainless teen comedy can even spell the prefix.
A bunch of cheerleaders at a three-week cheerleader camp are sprawled on a lawn, enjoying an outdoor movie night on a large projection screen, watching Bring It On, and mouthing or flat-out repeating the lines verbatim in a creepy unison with the film. It seems as if the characters in Fired Up! desperately aspire to the heights of Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku’s roles; much in the same way Fired Up! desperately desires to be Bring It On — an arguably soon-to-be-classic teen film. What is to be made of this scene? Did the filmmakers miss every winking joke in that superior comedy where every line was either bitingly witty or clearly spoofing dumb teen flicks? Like Fired Up!? Did they filmmakers do it on purpose? Or did they actually fail … at a cop-out for failure?
Well, failure is exactly what the audience gets. Fired Up! is a PG-13, cuddly, inoffensive, loosely knitted, failure of epic proportions at comedy. With cheerleaders. What the f—? There’s some plot about two high school jocks, apparently huge players, even though both look like prepubescent college sophomores (you’ll see), and how they want to skip football camp to spend two weeks at cheerleader camp. Because they’ll be the only straight guys, dude. Yeah, dude! Let’s do it!
Almost every character is a cliché, from the cold and reluctant squad captain (Sarah Roemer from Disturbia, looking half as attractive) who will obviously become a love interest; the flamboyantly gay “real” male cheerleaders, one of whom will act like oversexed serial killers; the comic relief (Adhir Kalyan, who at least tries to make us laugh and sometimes succeeds); and finally, the love interest’s asshole boyfriend who is a dork-squared who thinks he’s a supreme hero (David Walton, at least occasionally a somewhat-satire of pre-med students who think they’re M.D.).
There’s no plot. Honestly. Throw those clichéd characters and the ridiculous premise together, and some particles will gravitate to one another in a complete vacuum of sense. Scenes mash into each other as the dialogue and antics spiral into a vortex. There’s no tension, no release, no space to breathe. Turn to your neighbor with a puzzled expression about what was just said and you’ll miss the next five idiotic lines. Hopefully you’ll miss the lack of chemistry between all involved and the implicit homophobia.
The leads, Nicholas D’Agosto (Rocket Science, TV’s Heroes) and Eric Christian Olsen (Not Another Teen Movie) have been in far better movies where they behaved far more convincingly or hilariously, respectively. Shame on them. Fired Up! also crams veteran actor Philip Baker Hall in as the coach that says “shit” every other word. He takes an “angry old guy” approach to the thankless role that is at least watchable, like R. Lee Ermey’s version of the same thing in Saving Silverman.
There’s a painful attempt at a joke regarding the name of the cheer program, the three-week camp called Fired Up, whose initials, F.U. are basically what the movie says to the viewer for the length of its running time. Just go out and rent Bring It On instead.