Film sheds new light on sports movies
Remember those numerous david and goliath sports stories: "Hoosiers," "Remember the Titans," "Coach Carter," "Friday Night Lights" and "the Mighty Ducks"? They are all great sports movies; in fact, some would even call them legendary even though their plots are all virtually the same. While "Stick It," the latest addition to the sports movie genre, will probably not go down in movie-history, it is satisfying. It's a solid sports movie with, and this is a real shocker, a new plot.
Jessica Bendinger, who wrote the 2000 hit "Bring it On," covers familiar material as the writer and director of "Stick It." In this film, rebel Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is sent away to Gymnastics boarding school by her father and the judges after she is arrested. When Graham arrives at the Gymnastics boot camp, she has a series of nasty encounters with the head coach, Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges). Graham is also unwelcome by her teammates, who cease to forget the time she walked out on her previous team at the gymnastic world championships — after which Graham never competed again. After a whirlwind of trouble and turmoil, Graham gets her act together and "sticks it."
Easily the most refreshing part about this movie is its original plot. Despite the temptation to go where every other great sports movie has gone, Bendinger strays from the sports cliché and focuses on the perils of gymnastics and the cutthroat competition not only between athletes, but also between the gymnasts' parents. The film emphasizes the unfairness in the judging at gymnastics tournaments, and ends the movie with a twist — or even a double back handspring.
Looking at the smaller picture, another notable aspect of "Stick It" is its light-hearted jokes that keep the movie interesting. During one scene, Graham's biggest enemy and competitor, Joanne Charis (Vanessa Lengies) tries to prove to Vickerman that she deserves to compete more than Graham. Known for her ditsy one-liners, Charis stays true to form saying "I've earned my spot. I'm almost like a Dalmatian."
Of course Spielberg didn't write the script, but the director isn't aiming to please the most critical reviewers —that isn't the target audience. The jokes in the movie are age appropriate and amusing for their caliber.
Peregrym also does an excellent job of acting; her character is not the norm, and her character is a difficult role to play. Graham was both sassy and scared character, and had to perform funny, physically challenging, and even emotional scenes. Despite her less then experienced acting background, Peregrym suffices and does a decent job in the film.
The final and possibly most important part of the movie is the knowledge that "Stick It" shares with its audience. The film includes not only excellent and creative gymnastics, but it also shows a dynamic of the sport that only real gymnasts are aware of: the scoring system. Although the ending didn't end up being as climactic as most sports movies are, "Stick It" is still able to come up with a gratifying ending without making it the cookie cutter sports movie that everyone has come to know, love and get sick of.
Of course, this movie is not going to win an Oscar. But it's not trying to, either. The film fulfilled its expectations, coming in third in the box offices this weekend and grossing over 10 million in ticket sales. The movie may not be made for a critical analysis, but seeing as most of the critics aren't the target audience for the movie, it is pretty understandable.
Ultimately, "Stick It" is one of the few sports movies where you don't know the ending before you even buy the popcorn. And as far as sports movies go, that's a pretty big accomplishment in and of itself.
Stick It (105 minutes) is rated PG-13 for some crude remarks.
Devon Madison. Devon Madison has a famous brother and sister. What went wrong? No one will know. More »