A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
I jump! You can look but don't you hump. I'm major. I roar. I swear I'm not a whore. We cheer as we lead. We act like we're on speed. Hate us 'cause we're beautiful--but we don't like you either. We're cheerleaders! We are cheerleaders! Those are lyrics from the opening musical number of "Bring It On"--yet another example of the most depressing trend of the summer of 2000, the cynical attempt by Hollywood to cram R-rated material into PG-13-rated movies. This is done not to corrupt our children, but (even worse) with complete indifference to their developing values. The real reason is more cynical: Younger teenagers buy a lot of tickets, and are crucial if a movie hopes to "win the weekend." The R-rating is a penalty at the box office. So movies that were born to be R, like "Gone in 60 Seconds," "Coyote Ugly" and "Bring It On," are trimmed to within a millimeter of the dividing line and released as PG-13, so that any child tall enough to push dollars through the ticket window is cheerfully admitted, with or without an adult.
"Bring It On" shows every evidence of beginning life as a potentially funny, hard-edged, R-rated comedy. There's raunchy language, a half-nude locker room scene, jokes about sex and those startling cheerleader songs. I smiled at the songs; I might have enjoyed the movie if it had developed along the lines of "Animal House" or "American Pie." Instead we get a strange mutant beast, half Nickelodeon movie, half R-rated comedy. It's like kids with potty-mouth playing grownup.
The movie stars Kirsten Dunst ("The Virgin Suicides") and Gabrielle Union ("She's All That") as the captains of two opposing cheerleading squads, one from an affluent San Diego suburb (which apparently contains no parents) and the other from a mostly black high school in East Compton.
Dunst is the new captain of her team, which is the defending national champion cheerleading squad, even though it supports a team barely able to stumble onto the field. Union visits their practice one day to reveal that their previous captain had stolen all of their winning routines from East Compton. This year, that will make a difference, she says, because East Compton is going to the nationals.