Dir: Peyton Reed. US. 2000. 98 mins.
Prod co: Beacon Pictures. US dist: Universal Pictures. Int'l sales: Buena Vista Film Sales, tel: (1) 818238 1081. Exec prods: Armyan Bernstein, Max Wong, Caitlin Scanlon, Paddy Cullen. Prods: Marc Abraham, Thomas A Bliss, John Ketcham. Scr: Jessica Bendinger. DoP: Shawn Maurer. Prod des: Sharon Lamofsky. Ed: Larry Bock. Mus: Christophe Beck. Main cast: Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabriellle Union, Clare Kramer.
Teen movies were getting a bad name this summer: even Clueless director Amy Heckerling missed target with Loser. So it's a pleasure to see Bring It On come out of nowhere to win over audiences (it opened with an impressive three-day gross of $17.4m) and even charm some critics into describing it as a guilty pleasure.
Indeed comparisons to Clueless aren't unfounded, although it never reaches the dizzy comic heights of that minor classic. American kids are lapping up its mock-wholesome tale of cheerleaders battling their way to the national championships and it is already developing a cult following throughout the nation with older audiences. International teens might find the cheerleading aspect a turn-off but should be wowed by the routines themselves - a combination of dance and gymnastics which are often thrilling to watch. And like Clueless, it could catch on overseas as an affectionate parody of US high school rituals and slang which foreigners can adopt and make fun of.
Kirsten Dunst is winning as a dim high school senior whose life is devoted to the cheerleading squad. But when she takes over as captain, she discovers that the former captain stole all her routines from a black squad in a poor Los Angeles neighbourhood. With the national championships only weeks away, she has to come up with a new original routine while keeping the squad's morale up and overcoming hurdles such as an unfaithful boyfriend and a burgeoning relationship with new boy in town Jesse Bradford.
Universal Pictures' spot-on domestic marketing campaign focused on the rich white squad competing against the poor black one and played up the bitchy conflict that arises from that. Certainly none of the other summer teen movies had such an enticing hook nor zeitgeist lines as "She puts the "itch" in bitch".