PATIENT: Sugar and Spice
PROFILE: High school comedy about a cheerleading squad that turns to crime. Think Bring It Onmeets Fast Times at Ridgemont High and engages in questionable billing practices with Set It Off.
SYMPTOMS: I didn't think I'd like this movie since it wasn't made available to reviewers before its release—generally a sign the studio has no confidence in the product. Then, when I asked for one ticket at a matinee, the ticket girl looked me up and down and said, "Did you say one?" I said, "Yes," cast my eyes down, found the fly of my jeans wide open and felt dirty.
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To my great surprise, I found the first half-hour of the movie fast and funny, but incredibly, just as it seemed ready to really take off—when the cheerleaders decide to rob a bank—it bogged down. The next half-hour was spent showing how the heist is put together, with interminable talking scenes, planning scenes, scenes of guns being assembled and masks being chosen. The bank job itself is sloughed off in a couple of minutes and amounts to a bunch of girls standing around holding guns. If I wanted that, I would have joined 4-H.
DIAGNOSIS: Fast, frantic start; fumbling middle; limp, unsatisfying end . . . God, I hated high school.
PRESCRIPTION: There are four Reservoir Dogs-inspired, slow-motion walking scenes in this movie. The filmmakers should have taken another lesson from Mr. T. and kept things moving. Stuff should be happening! All the heist-planning could be handled in a quick-cut, hard-pumping, three-minute music montage. That would not only help the film but also soundtrack sales. Hey, guys: you've got high school cheerleaders! We're talking cultural icons, here! You can get laughs either playing to or against type. The heist should be the movie's centerpiece, with cheerleaders flying every which way. How about spending a little money for that Matrix effect thingy? There should also be a chase scene. Stuff should be happening. They're cheerleaders! We don't care about their organizational skills.
PROGNOSIS: Two, four, six, eight! Something, something, rhymes; with eight!