Stick It

by Alan Rapp on April 28, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Stick It
  • IMDB: link

stick-it-posterOnce you realize the film isn’t going to be Bring It On and accept for being what it is (which is both more and less) you can really enjoy yourself.  The movie contains the same level of writing but as Jessica Bendinger takes the place behind the camera this time you get a more emotional, intelligent, and well-rounded film that if not quite as funny still provides some great one-liners and humorous moments without going for all the easy jokes.

Tough chick Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) gets into the trouble with the law and is sent away to a gymastic camp run by Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges).  Haley isn’t exactly welcomed with open arms because of her past experience where she quit the gymnastic team during competition losing them all a shot at the gold.  Despite a mountain of talent her disrespect for how the sport is run and past experiences make it hard for her to get back on the horse and train with the other girls (Vanessa Lengies, Nikki SooHoo, Tarah Paige).

The film is full of enjoyable moments and pefromances including John Patrick Amedori and Kellan Lutz as Haley’s skater friends.  Bridges would seem an odd choice for the coach, but his presence on screen helps lend a credibility to the film a lesser actor couldn’t have done, and even if he is slightly miscast it appears like he’s having a blast with this role.

Missy Peregrym is terrific as Haley and the resemblance to a young Hilary Swank is hard not to notice.  She really carries the film and her off-and-on narration throughout the film helps give us insight not only into her character but into the world in which young gymnasts like Haley live and the types of choices and pressure they have to deal with at such a young age.  The other girls do a good job balancing the competition aspect with friendship and training.  Vanessa Lengies as the cold-hearted bitch who begins to thaw gets most of the best lines as she unintentionally mispronounces words while trying to sound smart, though all the girls do a good job and work well together on screen.

The serious world of Haley’s past and her recent transgressions never quite meshes with the light-attitude moments of the film, and when the reasons behind her mysterious departure from the sport are revealed it’s something of a letdown.  Also the very humorous final sequence of the film will entertain but it’s a little too improbable to be taken seriously or believed (though I’d love to live in world where it would be possible).

The film is more serious than writer/director Jessica Bendinger‘s first script (Bring It On) but the same humor is still there though it is balanced with the emotion and training of the sport that celebrates as much as it pokes fun and looks at the negatives as well including quite a few moments about the unfairness inherent in the sport.  As a first time Bendinger struggles with trying various film techniques which don’t all pan out (including an oddly-cobbled together cut-scene skateboarding number that opens the film) but once the film moves to the world of gymnastics she makes almost all the right calls including a wonderful Busby Berekely like number showcasing the different events that is just spectacular.

The film is fun, plain and simple.  It doesn’t just go for all the easy jokes (although there are a few) but also has a point, an emotional core, and succeeds in both celebrating and poking fun of the sport.  Fans of Bendinger’s previous work should enjoy themselves; though at times she makes a few first director miscues in the end it’s a pretty impressive success for her first time behind the camera.

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