Fired Up

Reviewed By Erik Childress
Posted 02/20/09 16:00:00

"Proudly Presented By Rohypnol"
1 stars (Total Crap)

At some point in time, Maxim Magazine began delivering monthly goodness for the underage male; too young to buy Playboy but too horny to wait for Sports Illustrated to finally deliver that once-a-year glory known as the Swimsuit Edition. This is the magazine that didn’t have enough boobs in it already that it hired Pete Hammond to be its film reviewer to which he ensured getting their name into more advertisements between June 2004 and January 2008 than Rolling Stone’s own resident tit, Peter Travers. After Hammond was let go last year, Maxim needed another way to get their name out there and casting began on a proposed trio of films to bare the magazine’s moniker much the way we’ve seen from National Lampoon over the years. We’ll be seeing Mardi Gras later this summer about guys trying to get laid in post-Katrina New Orleans. Another called Virginity Rocks involves a female exchange student who gets all the high school tramps to promote abstinence, leading a male stud to embark on a campaign to deflower the troublemaker. But the Maxim revolution kicks off with Fired Up and the fact that even the now Hammond-less skin mag’s name is nowhere to be found on the title, should tell you that even they are trying to maintain some dignity.

High school football lotharios, Shawn (Nicholas D’Agosto, the unfunny and uncharming version of Justin Long) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) are not looking forward to their summer. Who wants to be spending their time at football camp when they could be giving their own sloppy seconds to all the gals they’ve seemingly already introduced to the last girl’s fluids? Here’s an idea. Why not pretend to be interested in being male cheerleaders for their school’s squad and spend several weeks with fit girls in leotards, sports bras and probably soon after, clinics for severe rashes? Head cheerleader Carly (Sarah Roemer from Disturbia) sees right through them, but somehow misses what a serious jerk her boyfriend, Dr. Rick (David Walton) is. Taking a cue from probably their favorite film, Wedding Crashers, Shawn begins to streamline his penis radar from anyone-with-a-vagina to just Carly. Nick, meanwhile must cluelessly fend off the advances of a gay male cheerleader while trying to conquer the wife (Molly Sims) of the camp’s obviously closeted leader (John Michael Higgins). Do I need to continue?

It’s clear that Fired Up is trying to make us laugh, but all it succeeds in doing is constantly reminding us of so many other activities we would rather be doing. At one point a reference is tossed out from Animal House, to which a character lets the audience in on the joke by telling us what movie it’s from. After leaving the theater you can take up their suggestion of Olive Garden, even it’s a half-hearted one. Then when you get home, whip out your DVDs of Fraggle Rock. If these are all shout-outs well above the heads of its targeted demographic, there’s even an inexplicable exclamation of “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” which can’t be much better since no one actually saw last year’s Hamlet 2. And in case you didn’t know what you were getting into when you bought your ticket, even by following Robin Milling’s lead that this is “Superbad meets Bring It On”, we get an entire scene where the camp is treated to an outdoor viewing of the vastly more enjoyable Kirsten Dunst/Eliza Dushku vehicle which gets ruined by a new dialogue ADR from the vastly inferior cast of this film. If you’re not instantly inspired to revisit that film, then at the bare minimum you’ll want to check out the scene in Be Cool (one of the worst sequels in the history of film) where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does his own interpretation of Bring It On for an aspiring audition. Yes, you will be craving to give Be Cool a second chance after seeing Fired Up.

If that doesn’t sum up how low this film sinks, you have to consider the stance it takes with the Dr. Rick character. First off, imagine if you will what it would be like if Paul F. Tompkins was a hardcore fratboy who hadn’t quite grown into his hosting skills on Best Week Ever. Now imagine his greatest character trait, other than being a rampant douchebag, is his love for one-hit wonders from the ‘90s. (A Chumbawumba concert, by the way, another acceptable alternative to spending ten bucks on Fired Up.) NOW, imagine a film that uses THIS guy’s encompassing douchebaggery to make Shawn and Nick look like good guys. You remember our heroes, right? The guys, who have lied and smarmed their way into every pair of statutory panties this side of a Victoria’s Secret factory and who are making their way through every easily-duped shaved pyramid in-between flying splits, are now dispensing insults of moral superiority to the film’s true villain. This is like having the terror mongers from Straw Dogs condemning the foursome from I Spit On Your Grave.

So Fired Up isn’t this underage, out-of-wedlock generation’s Bring it On. Nor is it their Bring It On Again, Bring It On: All or Nothing or Bring It On: In It To Win It. If there’s one thing more rare than a great comedy, it’s one that somehow manages to produce not a single laugh during its entire running time. And that includes the outtakes. Soul Men and Disaster Movie were the last films I saw to earn this honor and just to understand how bad a trilogy they would make with Fired Up, I managed to either laugh or chuckle at least once in My Best Friend’s Girl, What Happens In Vegas and Schindler’s List. Maybe the response to Fired Up will run counter to the easily brainwashed moviegoing culture that thought they were seeing something new with Friday the 13th ’09 and Maxim’s future efforts will be pulled from the schedule and go straight to the DVD racks with all the new National Lampoon films where they belong. Of course, National Lampoon managed to have years of success and clout with titles like Animal House and the Vacation films and took years before they regressed to the likes of Senior Trip, Van Wilder and Homo Erectus. Maxim, on the other hand, managed to shoot right out of the gate with all the humor and nuance of Gold Diggers.

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