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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Sugar and Spice
Sugar and Spice
New Line
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 29, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:


Unlike wine, films often do not get better with age as they sit waiting to be released - and "Sugar and Spice", which has been waiting for a while, has seemingly not aged too well. After the suprising (and honestly, I think somewhat deserved) success of last Summer's "Bring It On", this film, which seemed to promote itself as about cheerleading, seems to talk about it more than show it.

The film revolves around the five main cheerleaders Diane Weston (Marley Shelton), Kansas Hill (Mena Suvari), Hannah Wold (Rachel Blanchard), Lucy Whitman (Sara Marsh) and Cleo Miller (Melissa George), a group that stays together and have become somewhat like sisters. Diane falls for the school's new quarterback, Jack Bartlett(James Marsden of "X-Men") and the two fall in love, get married and she gets pregnant quicker than she'd previously expected to. The negative response from their parents is one of the few funny scenes in the movie.

So, how to support the upcoming baby? A cheerleading fundraiser like the car wash in "Bring It On"? Selling their things on e-bay? Or, getting a job? Well, Jack does try the last one as he works at the local video store, but the girls want to give Diane's child the best, so they decide to rob the local grocery store/bank branch. All of this is narrated as cheerleading b-team member Lisa( the promising Marla Sokoloff in a thankless role) talks to the cops.

The girls aren't terribly well-written, but at least they do have nicely separate personalities. Suvari is the bad girl, one of them is obsessed with Conan O'Brien and Blanchard is occasionally very funny as a girl with a strict upbringing - when the girls watch films for research, she can only watch G-rated ones. The only problem is that not all of the performances from the girls are that interesting. Shelton(who looks so much like Heather Graham at times, it's a little scary) is perky, but unnaturally so - nothing like what Kirstin Dunst pulled off in "Bring it On". Suvari, after excellent performances in "American Beauty" and "American Pie", takes a step backwards here in a rather weak role. The movie does have energy, but it's misplaced as the jokes don't always hit the mark as written.

The film feels noticably rushed at times, and although I suppose the less time with this film the better, the already thin story feels choppy. The movie is presented here in an extended version - instead of the 80 minute release that was in theaters, we get an 85 minute edition that does fill out a couple of scenes.



The DVD


VIDEO: New Line Home Video presents "Sugar and Spice" in both 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and pan & scan editions. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen edition is a fine presentation from New Line, but it won't go on the records as being one of their finest editions. Sharpness and detail are quite good and the picture often displays fine detail and depth to the image.

There's a few more problems than I usually spot on a New Line title, though. The image is somewhat grainy, which I don't remember being a characteristic of the movie's presentation when I saw the film in the theater. There are a few micro-size speckles and spots on occasion, but nothing that caused any sort of distraction. Slight edge enhancement was also noticed, but the grain was the only thing that was really noticable.

Colors, like any good cheerleader movie, were bright and bold, with rich tones. I didn't notice any problems, such as smearing or anything like that, though. Black level was solid and flesh tones were accurate and natural. A very nice presentation from the studio, but I was expecting a little bit more.


SOUND: "Sugar and Spice" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and although much of the movie sticks with the usual "comedy" presentation of audio, there are some sequences that do expand upon expectations nicely. Some sequences do present some nice surround effects and take advantage of the few opportunities for sound that the material provides. The music, composed by former Devo head Mark Mothersbaugh and also offering several power-pop hits, energizes the listening experience nicely and moves the movie along quite well. Dialogue sounds clear and natural, as well. Not a stunning sound experience, but certainly more active than I'd expected.

MENUS:: Menus are suprisingly heavily animated, with a board-game theme - there's also some very nice animated transitions to take the viewer into the sub-menu.

EXTRAS:: 4 deleted scenes, trailer (Dolby Digital 5.1) and cast/crew bios.


Final Thoughts: "Sugar and Spice" isn't as good as "Bring It On", but it still has a couple of laughs and decent performances. New Line provides fine audio/video quality, as expected, but the disc comes up rather short on the supplements. Worth a rental.

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