American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"Stick It" uses the story of a gymnast's comeback attempt as a backdrop for overwrought visual effects, music videos, sitcom dialogue and general pandering. The movie seems to fear that if it pauses long enough to actually be about gymnastics, the audience will grow restless. It often abandons realism, unless it is possible, which I doubt, that you can do a head-spin on a balance beam.
The movie stars Missy Peregrym as Haley, a once-promising gymnast who disqualified herself by walking away from Team USA during an important final match. She had her reasons for bailing out, but for now she's in disgrace. She spends her time back home in Plano, Texas, hanging out with teenage boys and doing insane stunts with bicycles and skateboards that involve rooftops and empty swimming pools. The cops give chase, and we get the obligatory scene where the mystery character takes off her helmet and lets down her hair, and -- gasp! -- it's a girl!
Haley did thousands of dollars in damage after crashing her bike through a window and is ordered by the judge to attend, on probation, the Vickerman Gymnastics Academy in Houston. This is a legendary establishment rumored to be producing "more injuries than champions." Vickerman, played by Jeff Bridges, is a sharp-talking iconoclast with an offhand manner, but then everyone in this movie speaks in a strange, stylized, enigmatic way, and their dialogue sounds like -- dialogue.
The story will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a movie about a troubled athlete and a brilliant coach. It will also be familiar to anyone who has not. We have scenes in which the other students resent Haley for walking off Team USA, scenes where Haley rebels against Vickerman's discipline, scenes of injury and disappointment, moments of heartfelt revelation, some jealousy among the gymnasts and finally a comeback in which, we sense, Haley will probably not walk off the floor.
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