Bring It On might be the best “teen movie” I’ve seen in a long time. I felt like watching a bright, happy, frivolous sort of movie but I was pleasantly surprised. Bring It On certainly fulfilled that criteria, but in a more intelligent way than I remember.
For starters, I had totally forgotten Eliza Dushku was in this. I love her, of course, from her days as Faith in BTVS (also look out for other Buffy alumni Clare Kramer). There was a certain element of ‘Faithiness” to her portrayal of Missy Pantone, but it worked. She was a good tomboy counterpart to an otherwise very girly movie (even from the boys). This contrast also provided a great opportunity for drama, although Bring It On never gets catty. One thing I didn’t quite grasp was her rather quick transition from her first scene as an alternative, slightly punky gymnast, to full blown cheerleader. But you know what, I’m going to put that down as a character trait of determination and hard work in whatever she puts her mind to. Her integrity was hard to fault.
In other matters of casting, I found Kirsten Dunst to be wonderful. There are a lot of her movies I avoid, particularly more recent ones (Melancholia for one), but it’s not due to her acting ability. Her performance as Torrance Shipman was subtle and layered, partly due to good writing. I love the scene where she’s listening to Cliff’s mixtape (an actual mixtape!). Her thoughts play across her face so well. What I especially love about this character is that she’s immensely likeable, and not at all the typical cheerleader/queen bee that so many teen movies try to put across. This could easily morph into another movie about a popular cheer captain, her two best friends/sidekicks, and doing whatever it takes to win. Instead we have an unlikely friendship between Torrance and Missy, incredible decency from teenage girls, and the message that winning isn’t everything.
This movie really defines friendly competition, and female friendship. The two opposing captains obviously want their teams to win, but they aren’t going to go as far as stealing moves from the other teams, even if their predecessors did. It’s always fair. There is never a vibe of “those other bitches are going down,” or similar, which is so positive for a film targeted towards teenage girls. The audience ends up rooting for both teams; it doesn’t matter who wins in the end.
Also, beyond cheer uniforms this movie has some great fashion moments. I definitely have a thing for 90s and early 2000s nostalgia, but come on; triangle bandannas, bejewelled tees, crop tops, platforms, chokers? Really, who doesn’t love it, deep down?
This is, on the surface, a high school movie about cheerleaders. But I think if you look deeper, it’s a lovely story about friendship, integrity, fair competition, and standing up for yourself. I loved it.