Friday, February 20, 2009

Fired Up about Fired Up!

In Fired Up, Shawn (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) are top scorers on the Ford High School football team…both on and off the field. When they hatch a scheme to trade their footballs for pom poms and join the school's most beautiful girls at cheer camp, the new team members actually give the girls' historically awful cheer squad a chance at success. And when Shawn falls for the head cheerleader (Sarah Roemer), the boys must learn some new moves and unleash their inner spirit to prove their intentions before the all-important cheer competition finals.

Check my man card at the door and begin making fun of me because I am about to admit to completely enjoying Fired Up!. Yes, this is a movie about cheer camp and high schoolers and falling in love, and trust me as a professional film critic I feel all dirty inside liking it. Where is my high-minded attitude and my ability to stick up my nose at anything that doesn't involve at least two academy award nominated actors and a screenplay confronting the inner turmoils of man's soul? How can I like this film!? At least now I can empathize with the two lead characters, Shawn (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olson), two high school playboys who decide that going to cheer camp will be much better than football camp because they can hook-up with more girls that way. Just like they must confront their perceived manliness, especially with Shawn falling for a girl and both of them actually liking cheer leading, I must confront mine for actually liking the movie. But wait, that plot only half sounds like a bad teen girl flick doesn't it? Two horny teenage guys trying to score with as many girls as possible sounds a lot more like a bad teen guy flick, doesn't it? Yea, it does. And the two lead's surprisingly funny repartee is mostly based around cussing, sex jokes and pop culture references. In fact even the film's montage is centered around hooking up with a bunch of girls, not falling in love with just one of them -- even though that does eventually happen. Yea, this is totally a guy's movie! It's fine then that I laughed at plenty of the jokes. It's not like the film is all that idiotic either. In fact much like another certain cheer leading movie which shall go unarmed but starts with the word Bring and ends in On, the film has a certain self awareness of its own general stupidity that elevates it above the normal drivel of a teeny-bopper movie. It's actually clever and funny in much of what it does, like the douche bag boyfriend who is pre-med, but still insists calling himself doctor and always pulls up blaring a song that anyone who lived through the 90's would agree is a douche bag song (Chumbuwumba anyone?). The film takes its many chick flick cliches, shoves them into a guy's movie and then makes fun of them all while remaining at its soul a chick flick. If that isn't a feat to enjoy and be impressed with, well then, I don't know what is. This isn't high art and we won't be seeing it nominated for any Oscars of course, but it is sharp and clever. Now that I've talked myself, and hopefully you, into believing that a cheerleader movie is actually a guy film and that said guy film is actually smarter than it looks I have to go back and check out every sequel to Bring It On. Who knows, I could have been missing comic gold, right? Yes, Fired Up is a crazy, teen sex comedy infused with the spirit of Animal House or Caddyshack, and it might not be as good as any of those (even though it does borrow from many similar movies), but director Will Gluck and writer Freedom Jones throw in enough smart references and funny moments to elevate the movie to a level above mediocre. It might not be original, but Fired Up makes you laugh. In between the homosexuality jokes, silly overacting, extreme sexual suggestions at each turn and every character being just a bit too dumb to live, Gluck and Jones find ways to mock the movie they are making, and D’Agostino and Olsen are more than capable enough to play along and get you to giggle. They share a good camaraderie, know how to show the bravado of two fast talking guys who usually get what they want, but also excel as Shawn and Nick go through the inevitable life changing moments. Fired Up gets too wrapped up in the obvious plot twists you can see coming from a mile and a half away, and you might get a good laugh out of pointing each one out as it pops up in the movie, but you can’t deny it has something going for it.
So funny I wanted to cheer.  I laughed my ass off from beginning to end. Even though it's highly cliched, it is still a comedy treat. A Cheery 3 on my "Go See" scale topped off with spirit fingers.

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