director Peyton Reed
My 12 year old daughter and I have developed a new measurement of her interest in a movie that we watch together on television: how many times she asks how much longer the film has to go. The ultimate sign of interest is when she doesn’t ask at all.
So, when I asked her how she enjoyed the 2000 cheerleading competition teen flick Bring It On, she referenced that scale and noted that she not once inquired into the “are we there yet?” of movie-watching.
Director Peyton Reed’s theatrical debut was a bit of a surprise back in 2000 for me, too. A friend of mine, known for off-the-wall but reliable recommendations, said it was great, and against my instincts, I watched it, enjoyed it, and was duly impressed. Sports movies aren’t really a genre I enjoy overly, and really Bring It On is a sports movie, a comedy about competition, even if that competition is a so typically derided form as in cheerleading.
Kirsten Dunst is the star and brings it, and co-stars Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, and Gabrielle Union all bring it as well. And Peyton Reed keeps it peppy and fresh, clipping along, boosted by the cheer scenes and dance performances, both mocking and respectful, a coy tone of irony and self-awareness but keeping enough earnest heart that the story stays true.
The twist of having the largely white lead team guilty of pilfering cheers and numbers from a largely African-American inner city squad was innovative, a referential nod at all the times that white culture has appropriated black culture. The film plays with aspects of progressiveness though deeper critiques are probably dubious. It would have been nice to see more of the East Compton crew on screen.
I’d say this holds up “okay”. I remember thinking it was pretty fun back in the day. I guess it’s still “pretty fun”. But I qualify that more than before.