The Barenaked Archives: Stick It

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies.

The Barenaked Archives are reviews that I did for two previous websites. Sadly, they are both gone, so this is now the only place online you can see these old columns.

Stick It posterIf Stick It (hooray for unintentionally suggestive titles!) is on your list of possible viewing options for this weekend, I recommend asking yourself a few questions first:

Do I like watching teenage girls with enviable bodies, including inhumanly tight abs, prancing around in leotards?

Do I like gymnastics?

Do I like montages every fifteen or twenty minutes?

Do I like sports movies and their numerous clichés, including but not limited to: the aforementioned training montages, bitchy but talented “rivals” who turn out to not be so bad after all, and parents more obsessed about the sport than the athlete?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above questions, then Stick It is a movie for you. If you answered “no,” on the other hand, you’re better off finding somewhere else to spend your time and money.

Many of you probably made up your minds when you saw it advertised as “from the writer of Bring It On” (she also directs this time around), but Stick It is a movie aimed directly at a niche market. It’s about teen girls, for teen girls (and teen boys, given the amount of midriff going on there).

Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is a former gymnast and current rebel without a cause who walked out on the world championships and hasn’t looked back. When she lands in trouble with the law yet again, she gets dumped at the Vickerman Gymnastics Academy, run by Coach Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges).

If you can’t guess what happens from there (he’s going to coach her, she’s not going to get along with the other girls, and there will be a big championship match), then you don’t watch enough movies.

As you might be able to tell, Stick It has a pretty basic sports storyline. If you’re watching it, chances are you aren’t going to care too much about the dialogue, the plot, or character development, because that’s not why you go to movies like this. You go to see something inoffensive and lighthearted, with a little bit of edgy “grrl” power thrown in at the end. It’s not completely terrible, just merely forgettable.

It is frustrating, though, to watch it when the plot loses focus near the end. What seemed to be the aim of the movie for the first hour or so changes before the climactic championship meet, so suddenly it’s not about Haley or even Haley and her team, but the gymnasts versus the judges.

It’s a switcheroo that comes from out of left field, and near as I can figure allows for nothing but some nose-thumbing at the judges. While that may be all well and good for one’s inner rebel, it’s not so good for a cohesive story.

The montages don’t really help, either. Much as I understand they’re all but necessary for this kind of movie, when you have one every ten minutes, it gets old fast. Entertaining as it is, after training montages and competition montages, we really don’t need to see the montage where the gymnasts are doing back handsprings through a department store while wearing prom dresses. Honest.

And please: it’s a camera, not a kaleidoscope. I know there are lots of fancy editing tricks you can use in an effort to appeal to the MTV/ADD generation, but there’s a point where it just gets annoying.

Stick It is just okay for what it is. With a more solid plot and better script it could’ve found a wider appeal, but as it is only the teen girl demographic will find something to like.

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