Monday, April 29, 2013

This Month In... 2006: "Stick It"

AKA Bring It On: Gymnastics Edition.


It's Not Called Review-Nice-Tics... Wait

      I used to have to do gymnastics every year in my elementary school gym class. I kinda liked it, mostly because it was something different from just running, which I'm bad at. And every gymnastics unit would end with actually gymnasts coming in and performing. That is all of my experience with gymnastics. I remembered once when on a field trip to Washington D.C. they played this movie for us. I don't remember a single part of the movie from that moment. So, with my lack of gymnastics knowledge and my bad memory of this movie, did this movie have any chance of impressing me? Not really no, but everything deserves a chance. Mostly. Stick It is written and directed by Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On) and follows Haley (Missy Peregrym, Reaper), a teen delinquent that accidentally destroys a house that's under construction. The judge sentences her to a gymnastics academy (Seriously, what's up with judges in movies?), which is run by Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges, Iron Man). There, she faces off with fellow gymnast Joanne (Vanessa Lengies, Glee) and the gymnastics judges as she fights for her freedom and for the state of gymnastics. Yeah, shit gets silly.

That's not a vessel!
Thank You for Being Here

      The strange thing about Stick It is that it plays out almost like it's two separate movies in one. At one point, it seems as if there was planned to be a sequel to this film and those plans were scrapped, causing the script for "Stick It 2 The Man" to be combined with this one. The first hour of the film is devoted to Haley paying out her sentence, re-entering the gymnastics and developing a relationship (No, not like that) with Vickerman. About an hour into the movie, Haley is relieved of her sentence, loving gymnastics again and working with Vickerman. The last forty minutes are devoted to the climactic gymnastics competition, in which many of the gymnasts rebel against the stuffy judges giving harsh scores. The two plots isn't that big a problem, except for the fact that the last 40 minutes are WAY better than the first hour. The first hour is the same exact story you've heard a thousand times before. Haley is rebelling against her careless parents, hates gymnastics because of a personal memory unfortunately related to the sport, dislikes Vickerman because he actually challenges her, yadda yadda yadda. It's not even done particularly well, with a lame sense of humor that relies WAY too much on fart jokes and characters that calling stock would be an insult to stock characters. The only bright side is Bridges, who gives this movie way too good a performance and Peregrym, who gamely does every ridiculous thing the script makes her do.

Rage Against the Old Ladies

      The second half though fares far better than the first. It's like 2 different writers wrote the two halves. This half is actually pretty funny and surprisingly exciting  I was surprised to find myself hating the judges just as much as the characters did and enjoying the gymnasts throwing the competition. It's honestly a pretty good movie. But, it does feel very separated from the first hour. Even worse, most of the characters fall to the background, as both Haley and Vickerman hardly have much to say during to competition and a lot of it just feels like ways to fit in celebrity gymnast cameos. It's a pretty good last act, but not all that perfect.

This is one of the greatest pictures ever.
The Verdict

      Stick It is pretty far from perfect. It's even far from great. But it is pretty close to good. The film may feel like two different movies rolled into one, but thankfully one movie is better than the other. The first hour is a dull, generic and poorly written film that is only saved by Jeff Bridges's presence. The last act however, is a surprisingly strong and interesting competition that gets you well invested in the film's characters and climax. Still,the first hour is a rough ride and the last act only barely makes up for it. Stick It might stick the landing, but it sure screwed up the beginning. Stick It gets 4 stars out of 6. That's it for 2006. Stay tuned, as next week, This Month In..., travels to May 2009 for 2 all-new reviews. First, we battle for poor CGI, then, we make Charles Dickinson roll over in his grave!

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