Chris vs. Previews: January 2010



It’s that time again: Today at ComicsAlliance, I slug it out with anther five hundred pages of the Previews Catalog!

There are, however, a couple of corrections I need to make to this one.

First up, I claim in the article that I’m completely unfamiliar with Felicia Day, when, as alert ISB reader Guy Segal points out, that’s clearly not the case, as she had a supporting role as Penelope Hope, the theater major turned cheerleader in Bring It On Again!



This means that not only do I own one of her movies on DVD, but that I’m pretty sure I have a sticker with her face on it, and as the Internet’s Foremost Bringitologist, I deeply regret this error. Although I think the fact that I responded to “She’s in Bring It On Again” with “Oh, is she Penelope?!” does a lot to confirm that status, as it’s pretty much proof that I can name more Bring It On characters than just about everyone else.

Secondly, there’s an item in this month’s Previews that I just didn’t get to: The Dragon Age: Origins comic. Fortunately, Pal Dorian caught it for his round-up, and I agree with every word he said.


“I Feel Like a Witness to a Cheericide.”

What, you thought I was kidding?



Yes, last week saw the release of the fifth installment of everyone’s favorite cheersploitation franchise, Bring it On: Fight to the Finish. And as the Internet’s foremost Bringitologist, I figured I should spread the word to the masses, and I’ve got to admit: This is the best Bring It On movie since Bring It On 3: All Or Nothing.

That may sound like damnation with faint praise to the Non-On-Bringers among you, but the fact is that All Or Nothing (also known as Bring It On: The One With Hayden Panettiere) is far and away the best of the straight-to-video sequels. None of them, of course, are anywhere near as good as the original (which thanks largely to Jessica Bendinger’s script, is, you know, an actual movie) but All or Nothing is definitely better than In It To Win It and well ahead of Bring It On Again. And on the first viewing at least, Fight to the Finish is pretty comparable.

And apparently someone at Universal agrees with me, as you can buy a three-pack with Bring It Ons 1, 3 and 5. They call it the “All-Star Pack” (as opposed to my beloved “Cheerbook Collection,” which included 1-4 and stickers), but they might as well have just called it Bring It On: Just The Good Ones.

So what sets Fight to the Finish apart? For one thing, it actually looks like a film, which is a nice step up from In It To Win It, which had the look of an ABC Family Original Movie. And for another, it opens up with a group of Latino gangstas doing a routine set to a dance mix of “Lean Like a Cholo.”



This alone would be enough to make it the best of the sequels, even if it didn’t include a scene where a cheerleader says this:



Well it made me laugh.

But that’s not to say that Bring It On Cinco (the working title that I still prefer to the more generic one it ended up with) is without its faults. It’s pretty well riddled with ’em, chief among them being that the protagonist is the most unlikeable person in the entire movie.



The plot is essentially All Or Nothing done in reverse, which isn’t too much of a surprise since this one was cowritten by All Or Nothing screenwriter Alyson Fouse, re-teaming with Elena Song, with whom she cowrote In It To Win It. In that one, upper-class Britney had to deal with losing her wealth and social status at an affluent high school when she transferred to Crenshaw Heights, but here, Lina (Christina Milian) goes through the opposite when her mother marries a rich guy and she moves to a palatial estate, transferring from East LA to the much nicer Malibu Visa High.

And she is a total dick about it.

Admittedly, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the Bring It On franchise thus far, it’s that cheerleaders at poor schools are better and truer friends than the fake-ass busters of the rich neighborhoods, but considering this is Bring It On 5, I’m pretty sure that this kind of metafictional thinking didn’t influence the script all that much. Instead, we’re given a girl who thinks that suddenly having a ton of money and going to a school without the occasional drive-by is the worst thing that’s ever happened to her, and she takes out her frustration by being an incredible jerk to her new stepfather and adoring stepsister. She never really acts like a hero, and is more the protagonist by default, mainly by virtue of the fact that the camera is pointed at her more than it’s pointed at anyone else.

Also, she’s apparently a good enough cheerleader that her new school makes her captain after she practices one routine with them for literally less than one minute, but that might have more to do with the fact that all of the school’s good cheerleaders have defected to an independent squad.

Which brings me to my next question about this thing: An independent cheerleading squad? Can you do that? I mean, I know that cheerleading is a sport on its own and all that (and I know this because the Wikipedia article for Cheerleading used to have that sentence with six citations, because someone wanted to be! Defensive! B-E! Defensive!) but isn’t it sort of rooted in, you know, cheering for something? A cheerleading squad with nothing to cheer for seems like it might be the saddest thing ever, but I guess it’s possible. If any of you reading this are cheerleaders, let me know.

Aw, who am I kidding? Of course none of you are cheerleaders. That’s why you’re reading a comics blog.

Anyway, the non-school squad (the Jaguars), are led by Avery…



…who is portrayed as the villain, despite the fact that forming an independent cheer squad after you’re cut from the school’s is exactly what the heroine of Bring It On Again does.

I’d try to figure out the mechanics, but I was more worried about the fact that Avery’s villain motivation seems to be based entirely on the fact that Lina is dating her brother (a guy who struck me as the love child of Jason Bateman and Jimmy Olsen), which mostly plays out in a scene where she hassles him at the pool in her bikini and at a party where she tries to distract him from wooing Lina by slutting up the dance floor.

Oh, and after Lina’s team beats Avery’s at the Big Cheer Competition (spoiler warning!), Avery immediately throws herself into her brother’s arms for comfort, leading our two romantic leads to end the movie with one of them with an armload of someone else.

Straight up: This thing’s got more incestuous subtext than Cruel Intentions.

As to how Lina manages to beat the Jaguars despite their renowned Jaguar Skills (Hoooooooo!), that’s the source of another bit of consternation. In order to train her new squad, Lina somehow engineers the transfer of two of her old squadmates to Malibu Vista, with absolutely no explanation of how they got there. There’s the suggestion that Lina’s stepdad arranges it and that Lina invites them to live in his house without asking, which is just rude, but how this happens isn’t really addressed, other than a deleted scene (and yes, I watched the deleted scenes) where the girls fake a drive-by shooting to convince him to let Treyvonetta go to MVHS.

The only time that it’s ever brought up beyond that is when the subterfuge is found out and the girls are expelled due to the machinations of Avery’s personal Iago, Kayla, who gives us the single best line of this (and possibly any other) film:



Despite those (admittedly major) flaws and the fact that the franchise once again rejects the nonstandard, Rocky-esque climax of the original, it’s still pretty well-written, well-acted, and it was nice to see Nikki SooHoo show up, as her role in Jessica Bendinger’s Stick It makes her the first ever actress to star in two movies of the Bring It On family. So yes, it’s certainly enjoyable as direct-to-video Bring It On sequels go.

Which basically means that it’s enjoyable for me and Dr. K.

Bring It On Week: The Finale

And so, our seven-day cheerebration of the Bring It On franchise comes to a close, and while I hope that you’ve taken this opportunity to learn the lessons these films can teach us:

That you have to believe in yourself, even when your squad doesn’t.

That being fair is better than being the best, even in the world of cheerleading.

That cheerleaders of all races, whether they’re Rancho Carne Toros, East Compton High Clovers, Pacific Vista Pirates, Crenshaw Heights Warriors, or even West Coast Sharks and East Coast Jets, are endowed with equal spirit. Or in other words, that Vanilla Latte does indeed have skillz.

That the perpetrators of Cheerleader Ninjas are evil, evil men.

And of course, that Cheer Crips can’t be hittin’ it with no Cheer Bloods.*

All great lessons, and a tribute to the day-to-day usefulness that a careful study of the Tetralogy. But if there’s only one thing that you take away from this cheerstravaganza, I’d like it to be this:













Happy Bring It On Week, Everybody!





Considering that Bring It On Week was originally conceived as an exercise in alienating my readers, I never expected to get so many entries in this week’s contest. What I definitely didn’t expect, though, was for so many of them to actually be really funny.

Also, I never expected someone to reference Ninja III: The Domination. Nice.

But alas, I’ve only got one spare copy of Bring It On laying around, and sadly, I could only narrow it down to one winner. So without further ado, your winner in the first annual Torrance Shipman Memorial Name-That-Sequel Contest goes to…


Ted Belmont, for Doctor Cheerlove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Bring It On!


Congratulations, Ted! You’ve won yourself a copy of the Bring It On widescreen collector’s edition DVD! Vaya con cheeros, senor.

As for the rest of you, thanks for participating, and hey! Why not buy your own copy and just tell people you won? Not like they’re gonna fact-check the origins of your Bring It On DVD or anything.

Unless, of course, you live in a totalitarian Cheertatorship.





Bring It On Week might be over, but the spirit lives on in the hearts of the ISB’s Cheerfiliates, who are the foundation upon which my pyramid is built.

Tonight, Dave Lartigue gets into the swing of things by weaving the eldritch strands of Legomancy!

And of course, Cheerfiliate Squad Captain Bully comes through once again to rebut those who still think that cheerleading doesn’t make for a good time with an endorsement from none other than Sir Pelham Granville Wodehouse himself. No, really.

Thanks, guys! You’ve got spirit, yes you do!


*: Actual quote. Seriously, Bring It On: In It To Win It is amazing.

Friday Night Fights/Bring It On Week: CHEER-RUMBLE!

Despite the presence of a “cheer-rumble” in In It To Win It and the incorporation of the Cal State Martial Arts Club into Bring It On Again‘s “Renegades” squad, the Bring It On films are almost disturbingly free of violence. If, you know, you don’t count that time that Sparky Polastri flicks Eliza Dushku’s nose.

But let’s be real here: That’s not going to satisfy the Devourer of Funk when he puts out the call for fighting! Fortunately, I was able to find a suitable substitute…




For those of you unfamiliar with Geoff Johns’ best comic, that’s Shiv–who conforms full-tilt to the Evil Head Cheerleader stereotype, even unto super-villanous extremes–in the foreground, displaying proper spirit, and Courtney–who would go on to join the JSA and take the name “Stargirl”–off on the right, trying to preserve her modesty.

Sadly, the actual battle doesn’t have a lot to do with their cheerleading, but I think I’ve fixed that pretty handily. After all, this isn’t a democracy…





And that’s Cheereal.


You can find a little more cheerleading and a lot more face-kicking in the pages of the recently collected Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., by Geoff Johns and Lee Moder.





After a minor diversion involving both bad donuts and Pac-Man, bitterandrew returns to Bringing It On with a round-up of music videos featuring cheerleaders, who lead cheers, lament neglectful boyfriends, and usher in the era of Grunge.

Head Cheerfiliate Bully keeps the pom-poms flying with one of his trademark Ten of a Kind posts, and as a fitting sign of my bad influence on the Comics Blogger Internet, it includes Tarot. What hath I wrought?!

Also, Bully goes the extra mile by bringing GI Joe: Special Missions #24 to my attention, as its plot revolves around the lovely ladies of the GI Joe team going undercover as cheerleaders for a baseball team…



…and while I hate to be the one to point this out, baseball doesn’t actually have cheerleaders. Still, it got Jinx and Cover Girl into a chorus line, so I’m willing to forgive.

And finally, while it includes exactly zero pictures of comic book characters in cheerleader oufits, former ISB Contest Winner Cap’n Neurotic offers up a post on his memories of being lucky enough to catch Bring It On in the theater.

The Bring It On Week In Ink: February 20, 2008

Alas, there are some things for which even cheerleading must pause. And this, my friends, is one of them:



Bring It On Week or not, it’s still Thursday night here on the ISB, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Spirited Comics Reviews! But this week, we’re going to be doing things a little differently.

Normally, I try to stay away from absolute rating systems, because really: Telling you a comic is “three stars” or whatever doesn’t tell you as much as writing out what I actually thought of it. Of course, making a joke about ROM: Spaceknight doesn’t really do the job either, but the point stands. Tonight, however, I’m switching up the format, because in addition to my normal review, I’ll be ranking each comic I review by assigning it the character from the Bring It On tetralogy that most accurately captures how I feel about it–or as I like to call them… their Bringitonalogues..

Now then! Comics… In-troduce yourselves!



And now, the reviews. Ready? Okay!





Amazing Spider-Man #551: This issue marks something of a milestone for me: This is the first time that I’ve actually laughed at one of Spider-Man’s jokes in what seems like years.

I’m sure that it actually hasn’t been that long–I’m pretty easy to please in terms of Spider-Humor, and if you count the Spidey from Marvel Adventures Avengers, I know Jeff Parker got a chuckle out of me during “Ego the Loving Planet“–but it’s been a rarity over the past couple of years. And yet, here we are, closing out the first run by the writer I was expecting to hate the most, and the new thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man hasn’t let me down yet, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty surprised by that.

Which brings us to Amazing Spider-Man‘s Bringitonalogue:

Let’s be honest here, folks: Bring It On Again, which cribs its plot pretty directly from Mighty Ducks 2, is the weak link in the series, and there’s no reason why Tina, the villainous head cheerleader of Cal State College, should be any good at all, when in fact, her complete dedication to scenery-chewing pep-squad evil makes her one of the most fun characters in the series.

The comparison here should be clear: Brand New Day‘s coming out of what is unquestionably the worst Spider-Man story in… Yeah, I’m gonna go ahead and say “ever,” but for six straight issues, it’s consistently been the book that I look most forward to reading. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve said it before that there’s nothing that I like about these issues that couldn’t have been done without Spider-Man making a deal with the devil and ditching his wife, but the fact of the matter is that while they were trying to fix the wrong problem–Peter Parker’s marriage–they finally got around to fixing the right one too, and now we’ve got decent writers and fun, fast-paced stories again.

And besides, they eventually forgive Tina, despite the fact that she remains unrepentant throughout the film. So while I’m still a little bugged that I have to pretend one of my favorite characters didn’t sell his soul to Mephisto, maybe it’ll all work out in the end.


Conan #49: I know what you’re thinking: “Surely, Chris is not about to compare Sword-and-Sorcery’s most savage barbarian to a high school cheerleader.” Well believe it, brother: It’s Bring It On Week!

Anyway, I’m still not sure why Dark Horse is ending Conan next month and relaunching it as Conan the Cimmerian, but Tim Truman’s definitely heading towards the big finale of “The Hand of Nergal” at full steam. And really, this one’s got it all: There’s the standard elements that are there just in case you forgot you were reading a Conan story–damsels in distress, wenches in peril, a dark god of the abyss threatening to rend the veil of etc.–but by tying it into Iniri’s journey following Conan, Truman has really made it feel like the last five years of Conan are building up to this one big fight.

And of course, it doesn’t hurt that “Conan lived.” is one of the most badass captions a guy could ask for, either.

So who fits that mold in the world of Cheerleading? Why, none other than Torrance, of course! I mean really: When this issue starts, Conan’s in the roughest shape that we’ve seen him in the entire run, dragging himself out from beneath a pile of bodies while a vulture tries to eat him, but instead of giving up, he grabs the nearest sword and sets off to engage in his favorite pastime, Wizard-Murder. It’s the same kind of fighting spirit that drives Torrance to double her efforts even after a humiliating defeat at Regionals! And they’re both faced with making hard choices, although to be fair, Conan’s struggle over whether or not to spare Ereshka from the pain of living by chopping off her head may be Slightly different from trying to decide whether to continue using stolen cheers.

Also, and this is a little-known fact, Robert E. Howard invented spirit fingers. Seriously, look it up.





The Immortal Iron Fist: Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death: This, I think, comes as a surprise to no one.

And it shouldn’t: There’s not a whole lot that says “Hey Chris, read this” more than a comic where the Golden Age Iron Fist and his running crew of pulp action sidekicks slug it out with murderous cowgirls, Hydra Henchmen and the freakin’ son of Frankenstein, and Matt Fraction pulls it all off with the same fun and excitement that he and Ed Brubaker bring to the monthly title. It’s solid action, and while there could’ve been a little more of Orson Randall firing chi-powered bullets from his handguns for my tastes, let’s be honest: As far as I’m concerned, there’s never gonna be enough of that.

What really makes this one interesting for me, though, isn’t so much the further adventures of Orson Randall as it is the exploration of the John Aman, Prince of Orphans, who–unlike the Golden Age Iron Fist–actually did exist in the Golden Age. I think it’s fair to say that my love of stories where tough-guys give Ratzis the business has led me to be a little more familiar with Golden Age comics than the average reader, but I had no idea that Aman was actually Centaur Publications’ Amazing Man until a well-informed ISB reader pointed it out to me. As it turns out, Iron Fist co-creator Roy Thomas cites Amazing Man as one of the primary influences in the Fist’s origin, and thus, Fraction and Brubaker are completing a big ol’ circle of kung fu action comics.

Clearly, there’s only one cheerleader that can live up to those standards.

That’s right, folks: It’s Isis, the captain of the East Compton High School Clovers, the greatest cheerleader in Bring It On history. And with her often-imitated, never-duplicated cheerleading skills and a squad that includes both LaFred and Jenelope, it’s not hard to see how she parallels Orson Randall and his Confederates of the Curious.

And of course, much like Gabrielle Union herself, Orson Randall and the Green Mist of Death is pretty easy on the eyes, thanks to an all-star art team that boasts a Nick Dragotta/Mike Allred combination and the legendary Russ Heath, who offers up one of the most jaw-snapping kicks to the face that I’ve ever seen. And, you know, I’ve seen a lot. Plus, there’s more to both Isis and Orson than what made it into the finished product: As Phil pointed out, there are scenes of the East Compton High cheerleaders in the trailer that were later cut, and if you head over to Matt Fraction’s website, you can find the script for four splash-page chapter openers that were left out for space.

Plus, green and yellow? Come on, those are totally Iron Fist’s colors!


Incredible Hercules #114: You know, three years ago, I didn’t even like Hercules.

Okay, admittedly: I like him in Under Siege (the Avengers story, not the Segal movie), and he was in the greatest fill-in issue of all time, but that’s about where my interest in the guy stopped, and there was no way I’d be on for an ongoing series.

This, though? I could read this stuff all day.

I’ve mentioned before that Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente are doing a book that’s more in the vein of Walt Simonson’s Thor than anything else, with a blend of Marvel Comics and traditional mythology that’s just purely entertaining, and there’s nowhere that’s more evident than in this issue, where Hercules’ hallucinations move laterally from his battle with Laomedon’s minions in Ancient Troy to a throwdown alongside the Champions of Los Angeles. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that Pak and Van Lente have made Ares one of the funniest villains since Dirk Anger, or that the bumbling target of his hilarious evil is that most hated Avenger, Stupid Stupid Wonder Man, all while keeping him a major threat. It’s a great book.

Or to put it anther way, dude it’s Darcy.

Ah, Darcy. Some of you might recall that out of the entire roster of the Rancho Carne Toros, Darcy was the only one that choreographer/con-man Sparky Polastri singled out as having “good skin tone and general musculature,” and if that’s not the best way to describe Koi Pham’s note-perfect art in this book through a cheer-based metaphor, then brother, I don’t know what is. And while she’s often overlooked as a minor character–much the same way that Incredble Herc has been pushed to the side to make room for the new Hulk title–the fact that she also appeared on four episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess and thus became eligible for the ISB’s upcoming Dark Xena Week has definitely earned her a place in our hearts.

Admittedly, Sparky also goes on to claim that her ass is in danger of growing so large as to start its own website–despite the fact that the role of a website created by an ass is already taken–but so what? Some of us like ’em round, and… Well, I have no real way of tying that back into Hercules at all. Seriously though, Darcy. Call me.


The Order #8: Ah, the Order. You were too, too solid for this world.

By now, you guys have probably already heard that The Order‘s been cancelled as of #10, and really, that’s a damn shame, because it’s one of the best team books that Marvel’s been publishing lately. Still, I’ve got to hand it to Fraction and Kitson for this one, because despite the fact that the story’s clearly heading to the climactic battle against the Men From S.H.A.D.O.W. before the end of the run, it doesn’t read like a plot that’s being rushed to get the plot threads tied up in time. But then again, that could just be due to the way the book’s already crammed full of action to begin with.

In any case, it’s a solid read, and the idea of Tony Stark’s pet team going up against a madman who tried to pull off the Fifty-State Initiative years ago makes for a very interesting conflict.

And interesting conflicts are, of course, Carson‘s specialty. Much the same way that Fraction’s working to bring pieces of Marvel’s various ongoing events together–using this issue, for instance, to tie a member of an Initiative team to House of M and linking the plot to Civil War–Carson’s got to pull together the fragments of two cheerleading squads into something that, hopefully, people will like enough that it won’t get cancel–er, I mean, that they’ll win the competition. And she even does it with an alleged goth girl who claims to be cheering for Satan! See? It’s scary accurate.


Umbrella Academy #6: I’ve gotta say, now that it’s all said and done, this has easily been one of the best comics of the year. Everything about it, from the big stuff like a plot that could be accurately described as “an albino violin woman and her evil hench-orchestra try to blow up the world” to the more subtle details, like the fact that the Seance’s hands are tattooed like a Ouijia board to match the symbol on his costume (which seriously took me until this issue to finally get), all drawn beautifully by Gabriel Ba, just comes off as near-perfect high concept entertainment.

And you know what? I’ll admit that I’m still a little surprised. I probably shouldn’t be, especially now that I’ve had six months to get used to the idea, and given that there are plenty of writers–like, say, Christos Gage–who came to comics from other fields and went on to do some great stuff, but come on. Going from writing Law & Order to Stormwatch PHD is a slightly smaller step than going from “I’m Not Okay” to an explosion-fueled mix of BPRD and the X-Men.

I guess it just goes to show that I didn’t learn the lesson of Missy Pantone.

After all, she came from a different place and a sport outside cheerleading, and not only conquered against an audition that was stacked against her, but became the Toros’ moral center and helped Torrance lead them to their first honest competition.

And also to their Bikini Car Wash, which is at least as important as finding one’s moral center.


Zorro #1: I wouldn’t really consider myself a huge fan of the character, but I’ve always liked Zorro. And really, who wouldn’t? I mean, the guy battles evil while wearing the sweetest hat in the history of crime-fighting, makes a habit of petty vandalism, and I think it’s been well-established that I’m predisposed to enjoying the adventures of rich guys with secret anti-crime basements who wear capes and fight people. Still, it wasn’t until I heard that the new Zorro series was going to be written by Matt Wagner that I got excited about it.

Wagner is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite comics creators. Between Mage (one of the first independent comics I got into), his recent work on Batman, and the criminally underrated Doctor Mid-Nite, that guy’s knocked out of the park more consistently than just about anyone, and like Walt Simonson, he’s one of those guys that I’ll buy whatever he does, no questions asked.

But with Zorro, I’ve got to admit that I’m a little disappointed. The biggest problem–for me, anyway–is that, well, Zorro’s not in it. To be fair, there’s a hell of a lot of Diego de la Vega running around as a child and learning about right and wrong, and if you want to be a stickler for detail, there is one page where our title character makes a brief appearance, but come on: When I drop three bucks for a book called Zorro, I want to see some swashes buckled early and often.

Instead, Wagner gives us an incredibly detailed origin that I would’ve been fine with as a zero issue or a preview, and I can’t help but be reminded of Penn, the hunky male cheerleader love interest from Bring It On: In It To Win It.

I know, I know, but bear with me here. See, it’s not that I begrudge Wagner for wanting to show the origin, but at this point, after 89 years of Zorro floating around in pop culture, I doubt that it’s really all that necessary to have it right there at the front without first showing us the end result. He’s such an influential character that he himself is visual shorthand for the masked avenger, and the why at this point is far less important to me than the action itself. Admittedly, it’s easy enough to flip that around and say that after 89 years, we’ve already seen what Diego becomes, but not the details of his motivation, but to that, I say this: I bought Zorro, not The Adventures of Li’l Diego de la Vega. Just sayin’.

Which brings us back to Penn. I mean really, do we honestly need to know that his father wouldn’t approve if he found out he was a male cheerleader? He’s a male cheerleader; I think we can all see that there might be some friction with pops there. So instead of explaining why he’s got a set of nunchucks in his suitcase, have him bust ’em out and break some heads.

And I mean that metaphorically and literally.



Man. If I stretch this metaphor any further, I run the risk of serious injury when it snaps back, so as far as comics are concerned, that’s the week. If you have any questions or comments, or if you’re just curious as to why Chelsea from In It To Win It represents Youngblood, feel free to leave a cheer in the comments section below.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Tony G’s “Dos and Don’ts of Cheerleading” ain’t gonna watch itself.

Bring It On Week: Cheersploitation As a Genre

Despite the fact that I’ve been doing my best to spread the word this week, it looks like there are still a few of you out there who are laboring under the mistaken impression that Bring It On is not a good movie. Clearly, this is not the case. Heck, Bring It On isn’t even the worst movie in the great Heirarchy of Cheersploitation Cinema.

See, it goes like this: At the center, you’ve got Bring It On, which is actually pretty well-written and a lot sharper than it had to be. Below that, there are the sequels: All Or Nothing, which revisits the themes of the first movie and dares to show that people of all races are endowed with equal spirit; In It To Win It, in which star-crossed lovers borrow liberally from West Side Story; and of course, Bring It On Again, which is terrible. These aren’t necessarily good by any stretch of the imagination, but in true Exploitation style, they succeed by going after their target market with an aggression that’s unmatched. Seriously, In It To Win It even includes a step-by-step guide to two full cheer routines, and no, I have not tried them in my bedroom, thank you for asking.

Beyond those, at least for my purposes, you’ve got everything else. In last night’s post on Armagideon Time, ISB Cheerfiliate Bitterandrew mentioned Gimme an F and The Pom Pom Girls.

And of course, if you’re looking for fare that doesn’t actually pre-date my birth, the cheerleading/heist picture Sugar and Spice and lesbian coming of age epic But I’m a Cheerleader are only slightly less well-known than than the BIO tetralogy. Even an ancillary title like the gymnastaganza that is Stick It has an entry in the Journal of Bring It On Studies, what with the fact that it’s screenwriter Jessica Bendinger’s follow-up and,coincidentally, virtually the exact same movie.

And yet, it’s Bring It On that stands out above all of them, and so I’m still a little mystified by the folks that think it’s a bad cheerleading movie. The only thing I can think of to explain this is that you guys have never actually seen a truly awful cheerleading movie.

And in that case, allow me to enlighten. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…




The more sharp-eyed among you might notice that I neglected to include the usual handy Amazon link for this one, and that’s because it is, without question, one of the worst movies I have ever seen in my life.

And yes, I know what you’re thinking: “But Chris! Cheerleaders and ninjas?” and I know. Believe me, I know. There are even kicks to the face and an honest-to-God bear-fight in this thing, but its awfulness is such that it destroys the joy of these things and leaves only pain.

Here’s what the friendly folks at Netflix have to say about this gem:


When a cluster of religious women wrongly accuse the local high school cheerleaders of producing and disseminating porn over the Internet, the girls must try to reclaim their reputatsions. The Happy Valley High pep squad soon discovers that unbeknownst to them, they’ve been used as pawns in an Internet sex scheme. Armed with newly minted kung fu skills, the girls set out to clear their names.


That is, essentially, the plot, but it leaves out one major detail, so if I can suggest an alternate summary…


In this 96-minute “film” that somehow escaped being outlawed under the Geneva convention, writer/director Kevin Campbell vents his burning hatred for humanity through the medium of fart jokes. It is the enemy of everything good and decent in this world, and will rob you of the ability to feel true happiness. From hell’s heart, he stabs at thee… For hate’s sake, he spits his last breath at thee. Rated R.


And that’s being charitable. But perhaps I ought to back that up a little.

So then: Cheerleader Ninjas–not to be confused with George Takei’s upcoming Ninja Cheerleaders–was released in 2003, looks like it was shot in 1981, and is… awful. Just awful.

The story, such as it is, follows the adventures of three high school cheerleaders who appear to be in their mid-thirties, led by Angela (as played by Angela Brubaker) and Angela’s Breasts (as played by Kira Reed):



Like it says in the summary, these gals find themselves posted on “The Internet,” which, despite the fact that this film was made in 2003, is represented by what appears to be Netscape 4.0 and a bunch of posters. For some reason that’s not made clear, this angers a local contingent of Catholic mothers–one of whom is played by what appears to be the youngest woman in the film–and they decide to respond by contracting a hit with a squad of Catholic Schoolgirl Ninjas.

Yeah, that’s right: This movie has Catholic Schoolgirl Ninjas vs. Cheerleader Ninjas, and it is still horrible. That’s the kind of thing you have to actively work to screw up, and yet, here we are. For this portion of the film, though, you can lay the blame mostly at the feet of one man:



This is Stephen (as played by Someone’s Drama Teacher), and he is probably the most offensive gay stereotype in the history of film. You remember the gay guy from Con Air, who takes the first opportunity to put on a dress and then when the plane crashes at the end, he comes out of the wreckage and starts talking about how hot all the cops are? Stephen makes that guy look like Anderson Cooper. Seriously, there’s a five minute sequence where he does nothing but watch smoke coming out of a man’s ass.

To be fair, the filmmakers–or as they’re more commonly known, “the perpetrators of the abomination”–aren’t really going for anything that should be taken even remotely seriously. It’s obvious from the start that they’re trying to pull off something more like a Zucker Brothers picture than anything else, but manage to fail spectacularly on virtually every level, replacing the snappy charm and memorable lines of a flick like Airplane! with fart jokes and the addition of “wacky” sound effects to every single scene. And when I say “fart jokes,” I mean that this is the only avenue of comedy pursued in the movie.

Just imagine the famous campfire scene from Blazing Saddles, only an hour and a half long, completely unfunny, and played while you were being stabbed in the face.

What? Oh, right, the plot. So the girls have questions about this whole “Internet” thing, and so they turn to the most convenient souce of information: Nerds.



And brother, if you don’t think this leads to a series of truly stomach-turning Shatner impressions, then you haven’t been paying attention. So, you know. Lucky you.

Anyway, the nerds agree to help the girls, and despite the fact that I’ve watched this thing one and a half times, I have no idea how they go about it. It might help if the movie was actually edited with something other than a lawnmower, but at this point, I’m really not sure. Suffice to say that the cheerleaders get beaten up by the schoolgirls, and then decide to go learn karate from a guy whose name I didn’t catch…



…so let’s just call him Ted Nugent’s Hippie Cousin.

This, incidentally, is also where you’ll find the only funny joke in the entire movie–and to be honest, it might just be the delerium setting in after the last forty minutes–when Angela is practicing with her Katana and accidentally murders a very rare bear:



Once that’s done, the Cheerleaders fight the Schoolgirls for a fourth time… and then a fifth time… and then a sixth time, until they finally use the power of “the Internet” to turn into giant kaiju-style robots, and–no.

You know what? I’m done. Because if I force myself to watch it for one more second, my brain’ll explode out of sheer spite.

But there’s a lesson to be learned here, and that is this: Bring It On might not be the best movie out there, but come on: It’s a hell of a lot better than this cheertrocity.





Whew. After that cheerplosion of spite, it’s probably better to get back on track with something we can all be happy about: More content from the ISB’s Cheerfiliates!

First up, Erin Palette combines the two things that the Internet was made for: scantily clad women and jokes about cats.

And secondly, the ISB’s favorite little stuffed animal, Bully goes all out to become the Head Cheerfiliate! Not only has he adopted a special Bring It On Week header, but given us two great posts: An explanation of how the Rancho Carne Toros are just like the X-Men, and an extended fumetti sequence on Torrance Shipman: Master of Timing. Congratulations, Bully! You’re at the top of the pyramid!

Bring It On Week: The Contest! (Or: The Bring-It-Ontest!)

Bring It On Week continues! And while I did my best to catch the poor unfortunates among you up to speed with my thirty-second recap of the original Bring It On last night, I realize that–especially in matters of bikini carwash scenes–there’s really no substitute for the original.

And that’s where tonight’s event–the cent-cheer-piece of Bring It On week, if you will–comes in!

At this point, it should come as no surprise that I own a copy of Bring It On. In fact, along with stuff like The Big Lebowski, Caddyshack, and of course, the infinitely awesome Josie and the Pussycats, it’s one of the DVDs that I keep in the rotation for background noise whenever I’m up late writing.

However, ever since the release of Bring It On IV: In It To Win It (or Bring It On: Hit It And Quit It, as Chad calls it) prompted me to pick up the complete Cheerbook Collection, I’ve had two copies of the original laying around. And since that’s an honor that I only reserve for one film–that being Sonny Chiba’s The Street Fighter–I’m offering it up to one lucky ISB reader!

The rules? Simple: Just bop on over to this post by full-time cheerfiliate Dr. K, read up on the titles we’ve come up with for the next Bring It On sequel, then come back here and leave a comment with your own suggestion. If I pick yours, you get a free movie, a copy of the ISB 2007 Convention Special with a terrible drawing of your favorite character, and whatever else I have laying around when it comes time to mail stuff.

But here’s the catch: You’ve only got one shot, and you’ve gotta beat me and Dr. K at a game we have played for hours on end. And to be honest, we’re tough to beat, especially given that we’ve already covered both Scream, Bring It On, Scream and I’ll Kill You, I’ll Bury You, and I’ll Bring It On, Too!, which, considering In It To Win It‘s now famous Chainsaw Scene



…are an oddly appropriate pair.

Now get cheerin’!

Note: Keep ’em comin, but please, one per customer. I’ll decide on Saturday who gets the prize.





The comics-reading intelligentsia joins the groundswell of support for Bring It On Week!

First up, Tangognat combines the fun of cheerleading with the fun of science… Library Science! It’s, uh, a lot more interesting than I’m making it sound. Be sure to check out the entry on Radical Cheerleading, wherein enterprising young women stick it to The Man with the power of perkiness. Remember, folks: The Cheervolution Will Not Be Televised.

Next, Bitterandrew’s Armagideon Time gets in on the action as only the Official Maestro of the ISB could, by examining two songs used in the movie that you won’t find on the OST in his standard, incredibly cheertriguing style.

And finally, Phil gets in on the action by explaining just how someone can see Bring It On in the theater three times… “by accident.” Sure, Phil. Sure.


Bring It On Week Soars to Dizzying New Heights
And Terrifying New Lows
As we bring you the Movie Review You NEVER Expected!

Do You DARE Anger The Cheer Gods By Missing It?!