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…

 

CHEERLEADER NINJAS

 

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.

 


 

TONIGHT’s BRING IT ON WEEK CHEERFILIATES

 

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!

27 thoughts on “Bring It On Week: Cheersploitation As a Genre

  1. I once met Bendinger and related to her the Stick It! drinking game: take a drink every time a girl falls or is upside-down.

    I still have to finish the damned movie. Not that I mind watching it, mind.

  2. Bring It On and Stick It* are such fantastic litmus tests with new acquaintances. Do they show no enjoyment of these fine films? Do they get all creepy with their enjoyment of them? Things ain’t gonna work out. Do they love the charmingly fun girl movies as much as you do? Congratulations, buddy, you just made a friend for life!

    * Stick It is, IMO, very nearly as great as Bring It On and waaaay better than the BIO sequels. Discuss.

  3. You need to give Bully a medal or something, that little stuffed critter is really bringing it with BIO week. You’re taking over the comics blogosphere with this, Sims. Keep it up.

  4. You know, as long as we’re talking about movies, I’d just like to point out that Universal has committed to making at least four movies from Hasbro-owned properties. Do you realize what this means? I mean, besides a Hungry Hungry Hippos movie?

    I’m pretty sure that Hasbro owns ROM: Spaceknight, even if they’re not using him at the moment. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to use all your magic Internet powers to make diggity-dang sure that ROM: SPACEKNIGHT: THE MOVIE gets made.

  5. 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.

    You can’t just leave us hanging like that, Chris—where did you try them?

  6. Please tell me you’re not going to pay money to see Ninja Cheerleaders. When the first name listed is a reality washout like Trishelle Cannatella, something wrong. If you need a Takei fix, that’s what Star Trek and Heroes DVDs are for.

  7. Sims:

    a) Rad that you mentioned But I’m a Cheerleader. Hilarious film.

    b) Thanks for saying tetralogy and not “quadrilogy,” which I am loath even to type. Otherwise I would have had to de-friend you for life. 4 LYFE.

  8. I’ll say one thing for the movie. It’s true that it’s very rare to find a bear wearing a cheap bear suit.

  9. “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.”

    Sorta like saying, “hey, at least Greg Land isn’t Rob Liefield, m i rite?”

  10. I’ve seen Cheerleader Ninjas and it’s just as awful as you describe it. I also agree with your analysis of Bring It On but that’s secondary to your summary of a movie I had tried to forget about for years. I’ve only seen one movie that was worse and it was called “Blood-Sucking Nazi Zombies”. Shows that you can’t believe everything you read on the box.

  11. This kind of reminds me of film that was reviewed on Something Awful called Zombies Gone Wild, in that both have an awesome sounding premise that is ignored in favor of fart jokes and horrid characters. Will we soon see the movie Hobos vs. Bears, which will consist of nothing but shots of the director farting into a microphone?

  12. If i don’t get to use the word “Cheertocity” in a conversation today I’ll be very unhappy….

  13. I saw cheerleader ninjas, and it was AMAZING. I’d put it as one of the top film experiences I’ve ever had.

    I dont see how transforming into giant robots at all is an example of how the movie is BAD.

  14. Damn you Sims. I Netflixed this, thinking it could not be nearly as bad as you said.

    it is worse.

    I hold you responsible for the mental retardation I just acquired. As well as the retardation of my future children. The movie was so bad, I think it made my sperm retarded.