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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.42%
Worth A Look: 18.42%
Average: 11.84%
Pretty Bad30.26%
Total Crap: 21.05%

8 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Stick It
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by Erik Childress

"More Cameltoes than Lawrence of Arabia"
2 stars

I don’t know how long Jessica Bendinger can ride the success of the screenplay for Bring It On, but just as her lightweight tweeny projects have shifted from funny to lame to unbearable she has created a new kind of awful for the resume with her directorial debut. Stick It has so many shifts in tone, character and plotting incompetence that I found myself mentally lost during it. At one moment it’s a snarky take on the world of gymnastics, intercut with a cornball tween flick, then it’s finely tuned with a performance by Jeff Bridges that it nowhere near deserves and finally sneaks in a third act comeuppance on antagonists we didn’t know existed.

Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) has gone on a rebellious streak ever since her parents separated. Where she was once an Olympic-bound gymnastics competitor who walked out on her team on the eve of their biggest meet, she is now a dirt bike jumpin’, empty swimmin’ pool, breakin’ the law kinda tomboy. After she is arrested, the judge (Polly Hollidayyes, Flo) sends her to some gymnastics academy which appears to consist of nothing but a big gym and a halfway house.

Coach Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges) runs the place, providing false hope for the girls’ mothers that they are just a few handsprings away from a Gold medal in order to keep the checks flowing in. Haley naturally has no interest in returning to her former glory, citing some excuse about tired of being “judged.” The other girls equally look up to her and resent her for betraying her fellow vaulters. Joanne (Vanessa Lengies) is the ringleader of the puntentional remarks spouting jems like “It’s not called gym-NICE-tics.” There’s more sufferage where that came from, but the longer the movie goes on you may also suffer a brain lapse on what’s happened before and what the hell is happening next.

Peregrym’s performance is something of an enigma. Looker like a much hotter Hilary Swank, Peregrym has a natural charisma but has trouble connecting with the audience since her character is written with such spite and questionable preferences. The two biker friends that she hangs out with (one of them named “Poot”) are a pair of the biggest annoyances to be on the front line of destroying tonal consistency. They are the film’s collective Madea, storming in to provide comic relief of noise and silent-but-deadlies whenever the film gets close to briefly winning us over. When the film gets serious about Haley’s past with her previous coach (John Kapelos), Peregrym manages to sell it even as Bendinger keeps sweeping it under the carpet. It’s not fair to her or the character.

Even a greater mystery is the work of Jeff Bridges. Long one of the most underrated actors in the business, a role like Coach “Vick” is precisely the sort of check-cashing supporting work that an actor of Bridges’ caliber will usually take to increase their visibility and maybe fund a more artistically-viable project. But being the pro that he is, Bridges goes full force into the role and adds a level of believability to Bendinger’s throwaway script. He’s tough, unwavering and is even better at selling the tacked-on pathos in his relationship with Peregrym. But watch how Bendinger treats his character as well; screwball antics on a trampoline, denying him a worthy confrontation with his rival coach, a half-assed backstory that has something to do with injuring his students and numerous other mis-edits which keep the film’s one truly compelling character and performances off screen to make way for further underwritten space-fillers like Julie Warner’s overachieving mom and Gia Carides as Haley’s overachieving, looks-obsessed mom. Haley’s dad (Jon Gries) disappears 15 minutes into reel one.

I had to doublecheck the IMDB to see if Bring It On had a credited co-writer. It did not - so henceforth all credit will be given to director Peyton Reed and the film’s actors. Bendinger has about as much business behind the camera as the president of NAMBLA does remaking Boys’ Town (“the life story of a boy who was ‘born to be hung’). From the opening graffiti-inspired credits (since we can all identify roll tucks with vandalism) to its “who is the real bad guy again?” finale, Bendinger is more uneven with her storytelling than a set of parallel bars on the driver’s side of Earl Dittman’s car. Stick It is shrill, unrepentantly lame and will surely disappoint any fan of gymnastics as Bendinger substitutes some kind of Olympic-sized political statement in place of a big, rousing finale. And despite waxing right over the more serious issue of weight control in the sport, Bendinger regurgitates what she thought worked with Bring It On but swallowed everything that was funny, charming and invigorating about it until it wound up as nothing but a brown spot on the page that only an actor like Jeff Bridges could hope to save. I could go on, but I think it’s already been broughten and the title is already its own advice.

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originally posted: 04/28/06 14:13:10
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User Comments

7/24/10 art it reminded me of "MAN OF THE HOUSE" with TOMMY LEE JONES! 2 stars
3/03/10 Mary worth watching twice 5 stars
9/21/09 sdfan Loved this movie. Loved the gymnastics especially. Real gymnasts doing real gymnastics. 5 stars
6/23/09 art BORING BORING BORING! 1 stars
2/14/09 love it love her book bag 5 stars
6/21/07 loveer lotts its such a good movie hashah loverr 4 stars
4/11/07 kayla i love the movie and who dosent is just plane idiot 5 stars
2/28/07 Beau its for people with an aquired taste, but it was well made and had a resonalbly good plot 3 stars
11/26/06 Riki Witty, fast pace, and one hot chicka...I Like it!!! 5 stars
10/25/06 etcgymnast People that hate the movie just dont understand gymnastics.Gymnasts can really relate to it 5 stars
10/12/06 sxyraver i like this movie because i did the same thing i gave up the one thing i was kick ass at an 5 stars
10/07/06 jermaine I think you hit your fuckin' head on that 4-inch beam! 1 stars
10/01/06 michael AHH cheerleaders 4 stars
9/20/06 rambler Worse than Wtching "According to Jim" 1 stars
9/20/06 Jenna im a gymnast, this is hardcore. You who think it sucks, you go do flips on a 4 inch beam !! 5 stars
9/18/06 m@dd! r0x i hate gymnastics and i hate the movie it suks 1 stars
9/17/06 criddifa it was awesome stuff, loved it. all u ppl's that hated it u dont know what ur talking about 5 stars
7/19/06 TaTNaHa XapKOB Funny when it insimulates a cardiovasectomy; lame otherwise. 2 stars
6/24/06 Shelz I think this is one of the best movies ever 5 stars
6/05/06 mary barely watchable 2 stars
5/26/06 kylie if you didn't like this movie you have no idea what you are saying 5 stars
5/19/06 Staci I hate crap like this but my teen dragged me to it. 2 stars
5/11/06 SteveO Gym-nice-tics? More like Gym-nice-tits! 3 stars
5/01/06 brittany ITS MY FAVORITE MOVIE NOW. 5 stars
4/30/06 Mase Less a sassy "bring it on" more a sloppy patchwork of lite gym politics.For gym fans only 3 stars
4/29/06 kelly awesome! i loved it! 5 stars
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  28-Apr-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Sep-2006



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