Alright? I've had enough girl. Bottomless breadsticks only keep you at The Olive Garden for so long until at some point you say, 'why the hell am I at
The Olive Garden with all these fat people?'"
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High school football heroes Shawn (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) kinda look at girls
like Pokémon: they've gotta catch 'em all. The thing is that at least in their neck of the woods, they...kinda have. They're on the prowl for fresh meat, and when they
clue in that they can either waste the summer throwing a football back and forth in some sweltering stretch of Texas with their coach (Philip Baker
Hall!) or pal around with a half-battalion of cheerleaders from all over the state...well, three hundred lithe, nubile teenage girls win out. The rest of the
cheerleaders -- especially high sheriff Carly (Sarah Roemer) -- know why the guys are really there, but that's okay. Their
squad's ranked dead last for years now, and they think maybe having a little muscle behind 'em will make them not so much the butt of the joke this time around. Everything
looks like it's coming up aces, too. Shawn and Nick plow their way through a gaggle of ready, willing, and able cheerleaders -- and as two of the only straight, available guys
around for a few weeks there, they don't have to try that hard -- and they even help the Gerald R. Ford High Tigers kinda/sorta start to look like contenders.
"Well, well, well! If it isn't a couple of wolves in cheer clothing. Which part of 'the next time I see your punim, they'll be on
the moon' didn't you understand?"
"Um, like, the whole thing?"
like most flicks about horndogs sowing their wild whatevers, Nick and Shawn fall in love. Um, not with each other, I mean, and not Shawn so much anyway. He's
just ready to chuck the girls aside and dig his claws into a woman (Molly Sims). Nick, though, is heels over head for Miss
Carly. Alas, she's already got a boyfriend: Dr. Rick (David Walton), who's...okay, a freshman in pre-med, but that's kind of
like a doctor, right? Anyway, Douchey Doc Rick isn't all that keen on Nick sniffing around his girl, so it's up to him to...y'know, get the third act rolling with the whole
shocking revelation, break-up-to-make-up, everyone realizing just how much they need each other... I mean, it's a sports flick and a buddy comedy; you don't chomp
into this Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop hoping for some chewy, plot-driven center.
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"Not only is that move nearly impossible to execute, it's extremely dangerous! That move is pro-hee-bee-dah-do."
"Prohibidado! And I say that in Spanish because that's how exotic and not allowed it is."
Fired Up! isn't
just another dumb, paint-by-numbers teen woulda-been-a-titty-comedy-if-it-weren't-PG-13. C'mon, it's co-written and directed by Will Gluck, a guy who has a stack of
criminally shortlived, underappreciated TV shows like Grosse Pointe, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and The Loop under his belt. This isn't...y'know, Tomcats or something that's constantly flailing its arms around at all that zany, over-the-top, madcap hee-larity,
and Zack and Shawn aren't finger-wagglingly wacky mischief makers. They're the straight men, and I don't just mean because the two of 'em spend so much of the flick
trying to insert Tab A into Slot B. Zack and Shawn act more like they're watching the movie than starring in it, and pretty much all of the humor comes from their
rapid-fire back-and-forth snark to each other rather than pratfalls or mugging at the camera. I've sworn a blood oath never to
|[click on the thumbnail to
|saytype "bromance", but D'Agosto and Olsen
do have an enormous amount of chemistry and play off each other inhumanly well, and I can't really picture the movie working with anyone else hopping in as the leads. It
doesn't hurt that they're surrounded by a pretty great cast too, including familiar faces like John Michael Higgins, Philip Baker Hall, Margo Harshman, and Juliette Goglia.
Okay, and you probably have no idea who those last two are, but I'm enough of a fan of Even
Stevens and Veronica Mars to feel obligated to give 'em a nod
anyway. David Walton is unreal as the hyperdouchey, scene-stealing Dr. Rick, from bragging about scoring "rezzies to Red Lobster" to blaring the hits of '80s, the '90s, and
today! like "Mambo No. 5" to...well, that's why there's YouTube.
"Gawd, she's such a fox. I guarantee I'm gonna tap that before we leave."
"Dude, she's married...and like, thirty years old."
"That's just how I like 'em: ancient and regretful."
The way Fired Up!
plays, it kinda seems like someone forked the script for a really generic cheerleading flick over to Will Gluck and company, and those four guys went around the room and
scribbled a few hundred dry, quippy gags in the margins. Character arcs, plot...yeah, that's all pretty routine, but even then, Fired Up! subverts 'em just enough
to score a laugh. The movie never really goes for broke with its gags, but that's kinda part of its charm...that breezy, completely self-aware, lean-back-and-riff MST3K
style of snark. Y'know, like anything, some jokes work, some don't, but they're all lobbed out quickly enough that something funny's never all that far off. Fired
Up! is exactly the movie it sets out to be, so if you're up for a dryly funny sports flick-meets-a-kinda-sorta-sex-comedy, give it a whirl. If you're expecting Antonioni,
then...yeah, I'm not really sure why you bothered to make it this far down in the review. Whatever. I liked it. Recommended.
|Dude to the far right is Aquaman, but you can
call him A.C.!
This Blu-ray disc crams on both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the flick, and...hey! If you want, there's even a helpful little icon that'll highlight the stuff that's
exclusive to the unrated version. There's not much, tho' -- just a handful of raunchy one-liners and a quick peek at a couple of boobs. There aren't any new scenes or
anything, and there's really not much of a compelling reason to bother tearing into the PG-13 version. It's there if you want it, though. Oh, and stick around after the
credits for another quick gag.
it's a glossy studio comedy breezing straight outta theaters...of course Fired Up! looks great in high-def. The scope image is ridiculously sharp and detailed,
the whole thing is bright and candy-colored, and there's a pretty decent 3D pop to the photography. Fired Up! was shot natively on digital video -- Panavision's Genesis
camera, for anyone keeping track at home -- so it kinda goes without saying that there aren't any flecks of dust, nicks in the source, or chunks of film grain to fret about. I
couldn't spot any hiccups in the encode either. It's just a really slick lookin' Blu-ray disc.
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Fired Up! uses seamless branching to squeeze the most out of every byte on this disc, and that's a good thing: between the movie, the gaggle of trailers, and a couple of
high-def featurettes, almost all of the space on this BD-50 is gobbled up. Fired Up! is letterboxed to an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, and, like pretty much everything from
Sony for a couple of years now, it's encoded with AVC.
Fired Up! belts out a 24-bit Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, and it's pretty much what you'd expect. I mean, this is a comedy set against the backdrop of a cheerleading camp,
so...y'know, there aren't any ICBMs being launched at the Russkies or swarms of paramiltary soldier types swooping in and blowing the holy hell out of everything. Nope, the
dialogue's rooted up front, and the surrounds and sub are reserved mostly to reinforce various chunks of music. Sure, the low-end's tight and punchy when it needs to be, and
chanting cheerleaders and a half-battalion of extras reciting Bring It On word-for-word are beefed up in the rears, but it's a pretty standard comedy mix overall. It
hits all the marks it's supposed to, though, and my only gripe is that the vocals in the music roar from every direction...they're so high in the surround channels that they
kind of overwhelm the dialogue in a couple of stretches. Otherwise...? Solid enough.
TrueHD tracks are also served up in French and Portuguese. There's also a Dolby Digital 5.1 dub in Spanish along with subtitles in English (traditional and SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
- Audio Commentary: Most commentaries
are banged out right before a flick dives into theaters, but this track with director Will Gluck and actors Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D'Agosto was
recorded after Fired Up! had come and gone. That gives 'em a chance to riff on some of the reviews they'd scored and poke fun at how their movie pretty much instantly
vanished theatrically. The three of them have a pretty good sense of humor about...well, everything, really, not taking themselves or Fired Up! all that
seriously. They laugh their way through pretty much the entire flick while still tackling everything they need to, and some of the highlights include futzing around with a
raccoon on a wire, having to spraypaint grass since nothing's naturally green (or natural, period) in L.A, and how a producer's jacket burst
into flames at one point during the shoot. Oh, and it's educational too, serving up quick lessons about music licensing, how many different companies they had to pitch the
Tigers' sponsorship to, pointing out that you can't fling pound after pound of real ground beef around on a movie set, and explaining what it means to Maroon Five or Eliot
Spitzer something in front of the camera. I dug it.
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- This Is Not a Cheerleading Movie: The Making of Fired Up! (15 min.; HD): Choreography! Wardrobe! A grueling cheerleader boot camp! Uh...peacocks...? Everyone shoving their tongues down
everyone else's throats and inadvertently passing a cold around the set? Yeah, there's enough personality belted out in this making-of featurette to set it apart from most.
The bulk of the key talking points have already been tackled in the commentary, tho', so if you've already given that a whirl, you can fast-forward through most of this one.
- Double Duty (6 min.; HD): Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D'Agosto chat some
more about suffering through three weeks at cheer camp before settling into how the football scenes early on were hammered out.
- Gag Reel (8 min.; SD): Wow. Most gag reels don't lob out this sort of masterful
fuck-shit-bitch barrage, and I'm pretty sure peacocks ruining take after take after take after take has to get the nod as a first.
- Fired Up! Press Junket: Hour 12 (2 min.; SD): After trudging through eightysomething
puff piece interviews in a row, a bleary-eyed Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D'Agosto put the beatdown on some schlub from Halifax who keeps looking at Fired Up! as a
cheerleading flick. Y'know, that's the joke, anyway.
- Digital Copy: A second disc serves up a digital copy of the flick in case you wanna tear into Fired Up! on the go.
- Trailers: A big stack of high-def trailers rounds out the extras.
The Final Word
Gotta admit that I waltzed in expecting one of those schlocky direct-to-video American Pie cheapquels, but Fired Up! is actually pretty great. Leaning on
rapid-fire one-liners instead of a bunch of low thread count gross-out gags, piling on a bunch of nubile fake teenagers bending over in fetishy cheerleader outfits... Wow, it
really is like Mark S. Allen of CBS/CW TV said: funny, sexy, and smart - a triple threat! ...or not. Nah, it's not going to upend everything you thought you knew about the art
of cinema or whatever, but Fired Up! is exactly the movie it sets out to be, it kept me cackling more than most of the other comedies I've shoved into my Blu-ray deck so
far this year, and...hey, that's good enough for me. Recommended.