REVIEW: Fired Up! [2009]

“No, science is awesome”

I will admit it first off, I dreaded this day—the day I was going to sit down and watch Fired Up! It’s a film about two high school football jocks that decide to go to cheer camp and attempt to make headway in an untapped market of females. Now when I said high school, I mean the characters, not the actors. How Nicholas D’Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen can play seventeen year olds Shawn and Nick when they are 28 and 31 respectively, I don’t know. However, with the stigma of all the bad that this film should be, I will gladly give it the best four word review I can think of … I didn’t hate it. That’s right, you heard it here first, Fired Up! is an entertaining vulgar comedy that could have been even better given an R-rating, but as it is, shows a lot more Wedding Crashers than it does Bring It On, (not that I ever saw it, but from what I’ve heard, I don’t think that cheer-flick was going for the funny, even if it did bring it).

There was always the potential for containing some moments that would be memorable or characters that would steal a scene or two, but I never thought it would occur on as steady a basis as it does. The beginning is your ho-hum, run-of-the-mill high school mundanity with Philip Baker Hall collecting his paycheck by cursing profusely and throwing away the credibility he worked so hard to achieve as our leads’ football coach. We are introduced to Shawn and Nick as athletic womanizers, checking out the woman in the stands more than the play-clock on the field during a Spring scrimmage. These two are the kind of guys who don’t need practice; they are natural talents doing it for the notoriety and popularity rather than the love of the game. We even get treated to seeing them in contact with girls at school—the not so pretty ones who you think they will bash, but instead find out are ex-girlfriends. It’s a play that makes one think of the stereotypical ladies’ man only to be surprised at how they aren’t just talking to the “prom queens”, but also sets up the stark contrast to the hoards of model types they cross paths with at the camp. An extended tracking shot through gyrating girls, stretching and showing off their tramp stamps as the camera loops around back to the boys, shows the paradise they have landed in.

You have a clear idea of what to expect before even eating that first kernel of popcorn. Somehow one or both of these guys will fall in love and figure out that cheering with the team is a more fulfilling deed than getting laid and heading back to a football weekend of partying while leaving the girls in the lurch for the competition. Blah blah blah. It’s going to happen, it’s expected, and thankfully it isn’t as obtrusive as it could have been. This is where the Wedding Crashers comparison occurs; much like that film played with the same structure—two guys crashing marital bliss to get women and move on until one falls in love—this one keeps up with the funny and absolutely random shenanigans breaking in to make you forget how cookie-cutter it all is. Sure the PG-13 doesn’t help matters, (especially with an end credit blooper reel that gets censored in the good parts), but it also doesn’t make the filmmakers back off and not try to push the envelope.

The antics are funny for the most part, but prepare for plenty of stuff to fall flat as well. With some true gems—Olsen’s hilariously rehearsed speech to get out of football camp with adoptions and kidneys playing a part as well as a brilliant glimpse into the world of mascots on tricycles, amongst others—you won’t be bored for extended periods of time. My favorite aspect of the movie, though, is the use of movie references and unabashedly frank way of taking shots at the industry. Now I don’t mean David Walton, as Dr. Dick, and his “Animal House reference … LOVE it!” moments, but the more subtle instances. Like a throwaway line from Olsen of “Rock me sexy Jesus” bringing the funny in such a timely manner, probably added due to the fact that director Will Gluck had a role in Hamlet 2. Yet I also can’t forget a classic moment of Bring It On playing on the big screen to the entire camp, or the fact that EVERY single person knew the script by heart. Hearing 300 voices, in-sync, talking over Kirsten Dunst and Elisha Dushku is a scary proposition. But that Jesse Bradford, you got to love him.

And that in-joke, which you’ll understand if you see the flick, brings me to the bread and butter of Fired Up!—the supporting cast. D’Agosto and Olsen do their job and Sarah Roemer is pouty and beautiful like usual, but it’s the bit roles that make this film work as often as it does. The one-liners from Margo Harshman, (Tawney from “Even Stevens” is who she’ll always be to me), the surreal Juliette Goglia as Poppy, (“I know, she’s got the shine”), and John Michael Higgins’ cheer camp maestro can only be beat by one man—Brewster. Adhir Kalyan’s flamboyant, Calcutta-raised “chick” is a riot and he definitely steals pretty much every frame he is in. I also don’t want to fail to mention a fun soundtrack playing a role as well, and not just because of Dr. Dick’s jams either.

Check the brain at the door and be in the mood to laugh. Fired Up! won’t be something you’d probably want to run out and see again, but it will leave a smile on your face. Make sure to pay attention and listen close, though, because some of the gems are subtly laid out there and can be easily missed. Perk the ears when cars are mentioned for references to the LPGA or Ford’s wonderful Focus and bask in the delivery and well-timed pace of Olsen and D’Agosto’s back and forth. It could have been so much more had it not tried so hard to cater to a specific movie-going demographic, but as is, I’m happy to say I don’t regret checking out.

Fired Up! 6/10 | ★ ★ ½

photography:
[1] Nicholas D’Agosto (left) and Eric Christian Olsen star in Screen Gems’ comedy FIRED UP.
[2] John Michael Higgins and Molly Sims in Screen Gems’ comedy FIRED UP.
© 2009 Screen Gems, Inc. All rights reserved.

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