Stick It (2006): ***½
Directed by Jessica Bendinger
I saw this movie with a whole group of people,
and the general consensus was that it wasn't as good as Bring
it On, but was still very good nonetheles.
Why would that comparison even be made? Because
Jessica Bendinger is the woman who wrote Bring it On. This
film marks her directing debut.
It's basically the story of Haley (Missy Peregrym),
a late-teenish girl who used to be a world-class gymnast until one
day she suddenly walked out of a competition (forcing her team to
forfeit, by the way) and never came back. In the meantime it would
seem she became a troublemaker x-treme cyclist type of person. When
the film opens she gets in trouble with the law and is given a choice:
- Go to juvenile hall
- Go to the Texas Military Academy
- Go to Vickerman's gymnastics school thing
Haley almost immediately chooses the Military Academy, to which
the judge says she'll be going to the gymnastics school thing.
And so she goes to the gymnastics school thing where she meets
the hard-as-nails Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges). Will Haley be able
to pull herself out of trouble and once again become a world-class
The answer to that question was actually kind of surprising. While
the film does lead to the inevitable big competition climax, what
happens at that competition was shocking, surprising, inventive,
and infinitely more satisfying that a simple come-from-behind victory
against all odds.
In the end the movie becomes kind of a fascinating commentary on
conformity, competition, and judging. There, I think I've described
the end of the movie while still being sufficiently vague enough
not to give it away.
This is Missy Peregrym's first leading role. Haley begins the movie
as all attitude and no substance, but surprisingly doesn't through
the course of the movie exchange substance for attitude; by the
end of the movie she is able to back up her attitude with substance
without losing the essential attitude that made us like her at the
beginning of the movie. I really appreciated that. Sure, she starts
to get along better with the girls around her, but that's becuase
the character of Haley is essentially very likeable. Who doesn't
like a charismatic rebel who can back up what she says? Isn't that
why everybody liked Babe Ruth and Muhammed Ali? Because of this
the movie just seems to get better and better as it goes along,
until it is finally Haley's independence and essential attitude
that spurs the surprising solution to the climax, not her conformity
to traditional "team spirit" types of athletic movies
(contrast Haley to Eliza Dushku's character in Bring it On
and how Eliza starts the movie very badass and ends the movie as
kind of just like all the other cheerleaders).
Another thing I really appreciated in the movie was a total lack
of a forced romantic subplot. A couple of secondary characters flirt
with romance around the fringes of the movie, but there is no big
kiss at the end of the climax or anything. It was actually rather
This being a Jessica Bendinger script, there is much witty banter
and I laughed long and hard several times. There is one kind of
ditsy half-villain character who continually chooses the wrong
big words in her sentences, and that I thought was a little forced.
I have to finally give mad props to the set designer. Vickerman's
school looks like a masterpiece of early 20th centry Russian Avant-Garde
design (look it up). It's all red and white with straight lines
and huge planes of solid colors. Vickerman's introductory speech
takes place in a seemingly abstract setting with an enormous red
wall behind him. It actually reminded me of the opening speech of
Patton. Just a little bit.
I had a really, really good time at this movie. Sure, my impressions
of it were probably tainted because I saw it with a whole bunch
of fun people, but that don't mean it rocks any less. \m/