“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.

51 thoughts on ““I Feel Like a Witness to a Cheericide.”

  1. Maybe an independent cheerleading squad is like the A-Team, you hire them when you need….cheering?

  2. How could you not like Bring It On IV? It’s absolutely the best of the series. Come on, Bring It On meets West Side Story. So. Perfect. II and III were nowhere near as good as IV. You have no taste.

    Also, V is too long for its own good.

    Have you seen Fired Up? It’s basically Bring It On with male protags.

  3. I know I’d certainly read Action Age Presents: Project C.H.E.E.R., the story of an all-star independent cheerleading squad started by the US government to spy on / stop an evil millionaire super villain who starts the greatest rugby team evar in order TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

    The team’s mascot can be a talking gorilla the ladies have to befriend in order to bring down the team. He should be very conflicted about deserting his team-mates, but in the end decides he must, because they’re always making banana jokes.

    Wow. Ideas this good sort of write themselves, don’t they?

  4. You know, the world could probably handle another week of top-flight cheersploitation analysis. After you crushed Cheerleader Ninjas, I always wondered what you thought of Ninja Cheerleaders, to say nothing of Fired Up.

  5. So, I’m not a cheerleader, but I once watched a reality show about cheerleaders (I think it was something on MTV) and according to that, the cheerleaders who view cheerleading as a sport and do it to win the competitions, hate having to cheer at games. They think it’s lame. So, if there are independent cheerleading squads in real life, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  6. @NickT:
    Indepandant cheerleaders sounds like Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, or Elite Beat Agents for those more familiar with that title.

  7. I have to know: Does she say “oh my fucking god” or does she just say the letters “oh emm eff gee”?

  8. The Jaguars are basically like Zartan and the Dreadnoks, then?

    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

    Wait, is Stick It actually in Bringitontinuity?

  9. Plague, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Someone runs into a little trouble, screams for help, and the Independent Cheering Squad zips to the rescue by performing a complex dance routine to some pop hit.

  10. Jim wins the thread with “Bringitontinuity”.

    I have two points:

    1. In Germanny Bring It On is called ‘Girls United’ which sounds like concept porn about a pop band.

    2. She’s The Man is a pretty enjoyable movie. Admittedly it has less puns than BIO, making it the inferior film on a technicality

  11. I can’t believe I read all of that…but it was funny…

    Apparently the actress who plays Avery is also in the sequel to Center Stage, which is another in what I call the “colon sequels” – like Step Up 2: The Streets.

  12. If anyone actually wants to form a pop band called “Girls United,” I would buy every album without question.

  13. There are definitely independent cheerleading squads; I live near the practice center of one. They do nothing but compete.

  14. Please continue to ignore the Non-On-Bringers and review every one of these.

    There are many of us who are diehard comics fans who are, for example, really looking forward to “Glee.” Just sayin’.

  15. How could you not like Bring It On IV? It’s absolutely the best of the series. Come on, Bring It On meets West Side Story.

    See for me? This is a bug, not a feature.

    the cheerleaders who view cheerleading as a sport and do it to win the competitions, hate having to cheer at games. They think it’s lame.

    I’m not going to say that’s not true, but again: If you’re cheering, doesn’t it require that you’re cheering for someone? I mean, if you’re just cheering for yourself, that’s a bit egotistical, isn’t it?

    Indepandant cheerleaders sounds like Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan, or Elite Beat Agents for those more familiar with that title.

    See, there we go. If the Jaguars were shown to be cheering for a babysitter who was trying to woo the quarterback, or helping a mother conquer the weather itself to take her son on a picnic, I could totally get behind that.

    I have to know: Does she say “oh my fucking god” or does she just say the letters “oh emm eff gee”?

    The latter. “Speaking IM” is a recurring plot point from All or Nothing.

    Wait, is Stick It actually in Bringitontinuity?

    Considering its similar themes and the fact that it’s written (and directed!) by Bendinger, I consider it to be a truer sequel to Bring It On than any of the actual sequels.

  16. “if you’re just cheering for yourself, that’s a bit egotistical, isn’t it?”

    This reminds me of people who make 20 page photocopied books of their poetry/musings/whining and call it a fanzine.

    What, pray tell, are you a fan of?

  17. “This reminds me of people who make 20 page photocopied books of their poetry/musings/whining and call it a fanzine.”

    Most people in the zine community will refer to these as just “zines.” Calling them “fanzines” is like calling comic books “funny books” in that it’s weird and mostly done by old people out of habit.

    As for indy cheerleading squads- maybe they just feel that we should all cheer for the sake of cheering.

  18. Gah, I can’t quite remember if I’ve already seen this movie. This is the one that came out like last year, right? All I know is Francia Almendarez was in the one I saw and I know her sister.

  19. Well…. no one can say that you’ve got a narrow field of interests, Chris.

    When you shock the comix blogging community with an “ISB Gardening Tips”column (squeezed between a “Top-10 Two-Fisted Jesus Comics” article and another heroic Anita Blake examination), I’ll just nod knowingly.

  20. Independent Cheering Squads– Weren’t the Trojan Team of Ferrel and (sigh!)Oteri Independent Cheerleaders, in that they were actually barred from the official squad?

  21. The more I look at her (yes, I like looking at her – don’t judge me!)I think the actress who plays Avery could definitely be a cinematic Veronica Lodge. She smirks very well.

  22. I always thought it’d be nice if Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku followed up Bring It On with a Betty & Veronica picture. They could’ve been the new, hot, female Bing and Bob.

  23. “Plague, that’s exactly what I was thinking. Someone runs into a little trouble, screams for help, and the Independent Cheering Squad zips to the rescue by performing a complex dance routine to some pop hit.”

    isn’t that the plot of Osoka Tanden (dunno how you spell it)/Elite Beat Agents for the DS?

  24. Excellent! My intake of critical companion pieces to cheersploitation is now complete–until Bring it on VI…heaven help us.

  25. How does Stick It compare with the BIO sequels? I always wanted to see that one on account of Bendinger’s scripting, and I’d given up on the franchise proper after catching the second Bring It On on television. Glad to hear they do get better.

  26. “it’d be nice if Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku followed up Bring It On with a Betty & Veronica picture”

    Isn’t she basically playing a female Archie Andrews in the Spider-Man pics? Caught between a rich suitor she barely respects and a maddeningly fickle pauper (peeper parper?)?

    …which would make Vanessa Ferlito…Jug…head?

    enh

    //\Oo/\\

  27. How does Stick It compare with the BIO sequels?

    Worlds better than any of the sequels. It’s not quite as good as Bring It On, but well worth seeing, if only so you can pretend Jeff Bridges is still playing The Dude.

  28. But if cheerleaders are speaking IM earnestly, then what does that do to my hipster ironic IM speak? Undermines it, that’s what! This will not stand.

  29. I’m not going to say that’s not true, but again: If you’re cheering, doesn’t it require that you’re cheering for someone? I mean, if you’re just cheering for yourself, that’s a bit egotistical, isn’t it?

    You’re not cheering for yourself so much as for a hypothetical abstract. The idea is to show that you could cheer for anything at the drop of a hat.

  30. The Claim that cruel intentions had incestuous subtext is clearly a lie! That noise was pure text, she tells her brother-in-law to do things to her bum that make me blush.

  31. Oh, that poor guy in the cover shot. Poor poor guy. The look says it all: “I had to sign over my b8lls to the producers to appear in this movie, and now I have second thoughts.” Always read the fine print, son.

  32. I was part of a cheerleading troupe that wasn’t associated with any sports teams. We were the Art School Cheerleaders, pleated skirts, combat boots, lots of tattoos, and had snarky cheers about how useless art degrees were, how stupid performance art could get, things like that.

    It’s actually not much more difficult to cheer for things like art or free speech than it is to cheer for the local sports team. (Considering what the local sports teams were like at that time, it was probably actually a lot easier).

  33. “I had to sign over my b8lls to the producers to appear in this movie, and now I have second thoughts.”

    Instead of balls, I read that as Beatles.

  34. I was part of a cheerleading troupe that wasn’t associated with any sports teams. We were the Art School Cheerleaders, pleated skirts, combat boots, lots of tattoos, and had snarky cheers about how useless art degrees were, how stupid performance art could get, things like that.

    Um, if you have, um, any pictures of the squad, um, my, um, email address is in the sidebar.

  35. This is amazing! I’m late getting to the post, but I’ve got to tell you, it’s the funniest damn thing I’ve read all week (it’s only Wednesday, but everything I read after this will sag beneath the weight of this post)

  36. “You’re not cheering for yourself so much as for a hypothetical abstract. The idea is to show that you could cheer for anything at the drop of a hat.”

    Clearly you’ve never seen the individual portion of cheerleading competitions where one girl jumps and tumbles around on the floor, quite literally cheering for herself (spelling out her name and all).

  37. In response to that last post by Dan and the conversation it is a part of, that’s what I was thinking. Without a legitimate sports team, the cheerleaders must then be cheering to encourage the fans to cheer the cheerleaders themselves. But that’s what dollar bills are for.

  38. I was a cheerleader,and I totally read your blog. I can help you clear a few things up.

    Cheering for yourself may be egotistical, and so what, because we love the sport. I didn’t cheer on an independent squad, but I would have, because our football team was awful. (We used games to practice our stunts in front of crowds.)

    Tumbling and cheering your name is called a hello cheer. It’s like introducing yourself, except more cheertacular.

    The original Bring It On was the best because it showed how much work goes into the choreography, and how physically demanding the sport is. I hated the sequel, and haven’t watched one since.

    I have seen girls lose their teeth and sprain their ankles and still finish a cheer, that’s dedication. Real cheerleaders love the sport. Stop drinking all this hatorade.

    And as for “… that’s what dollar bills are for.” I want to see you do what those girls do. When you can do a backflip into a basket toss into full into a pyramid and a full down, then your opinion will count. Have some respect.

  39. excuse me but I was a cheerleader in HS and I read comics (my grandmommy bought me my first Vampirella when I was 8, because she was the only one who looked like me(dark hair and eyes) of course back when I was cheerleader, the competition wasn’t so mean and vicious, cheerleaders were role models and friendly, not snobby, and our outfits were not as revealing as these micro minis they wear now (my grandparents would have locked me up in a closet if I wore anything as revealing as these.)