February 20, 2009

Fired Up!

star

A movie review by James Berardinelli



Fired Up!

COMEDY:

United States, 2009

U.S. Release Date:

2009-02-20

Running Length:

1:30

MPAA Classification:

PG-13 (Profanity, Sexual Situations, Nudity)

Theatrical Aspect Ratio:

2.35:1

Cast:

Nicholas D'Agosto, Eric Christian Olsen, Sarah Roemer, Molly Sims, David Walton, Philip Baker Hall, John Michael Higgins

Director:

Will Gluck

Screenplay:

Freedom Jones

Cinematography:

Thomas E. Ackerman

Music:

Richard Gibbs

U.S. Distributor:

Screen Gems

Subtitles:

none


They might as well have called this Cheer Movie. About the only thing to differentiate this dud of a comedy from the likes of Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Disaster Movie is the absence of the names Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg on the credits. Instead, the director is a first-timer named Will Gluck. Based on the evidence here, one hopes he will do what Seltzer and Friedberg didn't and stop making movies.

Regardless of how low your expectations are regarding Fired Up!, it will still surprise you, and not in a good way. I don't approach a movie like this with a greater hope than that it will make me laugh a few times. Even with the bar set so low, Fired Up! can't deliver. This a morass of failed humor. Every joke is tired, obvious, and telegraphed. It's like going to a family reunion and hearing Uncle Bob tell the same gags he has told at every family reunion for the past twenty years. At one point, they might have been worth a chuckle or two but now you'll do just about anything, including actions that would be considered illegal in all 50 states, to get him to shut up.

I suppose this is intended to be a parody of Bring It On, although that's by no means certain. The concept of parody implies humor and there's nothing resembling that here. To make matters worse, Fired Up! is obviously an R-rated movie masquerading as a PG-13. The emasculation is so painfully evident that it calls attention to itself: skinny-dipping scenes in which women are in their underwear or where their breasts are below the water line (the nudity, as is almost always the case in PG-13 comedies, refers to bare male buttocks), euphemisms for "fuck," and softening of the most extreme sexual innuendo. I don't know if a raunchier, balls-to-the-wall approach would have made Fired Up! a better movie (probably not), but it at least would have seemed more honest. Undoubtedly, there will be an "unrated" DVD that will restore some of the R-rated content that was clipped in the editing room.

The story is a typical example of the one-line so-called "high concept." Two high school football players, Shawn (Nicholas D'Agosoto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen), attend cheerleading camp to get girls. Toss in a competition at the end, "quirky" supporting characters, and a few subplots, like Shawn falling for Carly (Sarah Roemer), the captain of the squad, and Nick getting the hots for the "much older" Diora (Molly Sims), one of the camp's directors. Perhaps the saddest thing of all is seeing respected actor Philip Baker Hall "shitting" his way through the movie. (The financial crisis must really be hitting home for him - I guess Holiday Inn isn't paying enough these days.) There may be a restriction to the number of times "fuck" can be used to achieve the PG-13 Holy Grail, but Fired Up! proves that shit has no limit.

The most amusing aspect of the film is either (a) unintentional or (b) so subversive that I may be guilty of underestimating the filmmakers. (The smart money is on (a).) The characters in Fired Up! are supposed to be 17 or 18. In general, that means the actors would typically be in their early 20s, with perhaps Sarah Roemer's 24 being on the high end. But no… Nicholas D'Agosoto is 28, Danneel Harris is 29, and Eric Christian Olsen is 31. (He still falls three years short of the all-time record for oldest movie teenager: 34-year old Stockard Channing in Grease.) Olsen, by the way, is in the unenviable position of not being able to claim that Fired Up! is the worst film on his resume. He played the young Jim Carrey role in Dumb and Dumberer.

I can think of no reason why anyone would want to see Fired Up! and the movie-going public seems to agree with that assessment - I was one of only three people in the theater where it was showing. The film relies on the clichéd outtakes-during-the-closing-credits approach to generate a few cheap, late laughs. But even these aren't funny. How bad does a movie have to be that even the bloopers are duds? About halfway through the proceedings, the temptation to slip into the next-door theater arose - until I remembered that the movie playing there was Confessions of a Shopaholic. At that moment, I began to contemplate the similarities between film critics and garbage men. Both deal with a lot of crap, but the trash collectors get better pay.

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