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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bring It On Again
Bring It On Again
Universal // PG-13 // January 13, 2004
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted January 14, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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"Monica -- if you want to be the bomb-diggity, you have got to act like the bomb-diggity, and Tina is the bomb-diggity."
"Did she just say 'bomb-diggity' three times in one sentence?"


Believe it or not, this is from a different scene in the movie. I really enjoyed the original Bring It On, and not just because it has scores of young nubile girls bouncing around for an hour and a half. Although I was quick to write it off during its theatrical run, I caught Bring It On when it hit DVD and found it to be unbelievably peppy, energetic, and sweet, like an IV of Red Bull. It's just fun, enough for me to be interested in taking a stab at its newly-released sequel.

Bring It On Again is a sequel in name only, though. "It" continues to be brought, and some elements are carried over from the original -- an opening cheer-rendous nightmare, a series of painful tryouts, a scantily-clad locker room scene, a climactic competition, and even a cover of an early '80s chart topper to close out the movie. For the most part, though, it's all original, even if "original" isn't really the word I'm reaching for. Anyway, Bring It On Again stars Anne Judson-Yager as Whittier, a freshman at Cal-State College. CSC boasts a cheerleading squad with a seemingly-indominable seven-year winning streak, and as the university slashes the budget for most extracurricular activities, football and cheerleading escape unscathed. Whittier is initially shaken when she first sees the squad, led by Big Red Mark II, Tina (Bree Turner) -- they seem too polished for her to have any chance of making the team, but both she and her old pal 'n roommate Monica (Faune A. Chambers) are talented enough to make the cut. The college's dean is impressed by Whittier's skills and wants Tina to groom the freshman as her successor. Though Whittier grudgingly marches in lockstep when Tina demands that she choose between the elitist squad and scruffy almost-boyfriend Derek (Richard Lee Jackson), she can't find it in her heart to do the same when Tina relentlessly tortures Monica during practice. Despite no longer being members of the squad, Whittier and Monica still muster enough cheer to try to create a team of their own, turning to the disenchanted students whose clubs were squashed by budget gutting. With only one squad able to represent Cal State at nationals, Whittier pits her ragtag crew against a group of established winners for a shot at the grand prize.

I'm not really sure what to say about Bring It On Again. I didn't find myself entranced by the premise, but I wasn't staring longingly at the clock in my living room either. Its attempts at humor didn't leave me laughing, but they didn't elicit groans. I was neither intrigued nor bored. Even though that doesn't sound particularly negative, I'd rather loathe a movie than feel utterly indifferent towards it, since at least then I'd have something to fill a couple of paragraphs. Bring It On Again didn't inspire any emotion at all on my part. I wouldn't place the blame on the shoulders of the cast, who do a respectable job with the material at hand. Several of the actors were instantly recognizable -- Bree Turner, Anne Judson-Yager, and Bryce Johnson all had recurrings role on MTV's Undressed, with Johnson also starring in another guilty pleasure, the WB's short-lived Popular. Felicia Day plays a politically driven dancer with a passion for alternative ballet, and some viewers may recognize her as one of the Potentials from the thrice-damned seventh season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The girls are cute, but Eliza Dushku and Kirsten Dunst are tough acts to follow.

The script is middling -- again, not unwatchably bad, but not nearly as sharp as Bring It On. Some okay gags are scattered throughout, but it's all fairly standard stuff. I remember hearing some nightmare-inducing rumors of a movie based on the Spartan cheerleader sketches from Saturday Night Live, and Bring It On Again veers terrifyingly close into that territory with the fledgling squad showing their inept support for the college's croquet team. I'm not really sure where they were going with a beat-boxing mascot with an overinflated sense of purpose or its passion for chili dogs. (Actually, I'm not entirely doing the movie's humor justice, as there is one moment where I laughed out loud. A reporter from KCUF suffering from multiple personalities is covering the impending cheer clash, and there's an extremely funny gag that whizzes by in the news crawl at the bottom of the screen that's worth keeping an eye out for.) The core of the premise is the traditional disbelief-suspending "underdog team against impossible odds" that was overly familiar when The Bad News Bears retread that territory twenty-eight years ago, and subplots that may have generate more interest if fleshed out are mostly glossed over. As it is, Bring It On Again is a standard-issue light sports flick and too unremarkable for me to recommend.

Video: Like its predecessor, Bring It On Again is presented in anamorphic widescreen at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, though those technical aspects are where the similarities end. The photography doesn't have the same sort of razor sharp, glossy sheen seen in the first Bring It On. The bright, remarkably vivid hues of the original burst all over the screen, but its sequel is more subdued, often seeming dark and almost muddy. Presumably these, as well as the moderate film grain visible throughout, can be attributed to a lower grade of film stock crammed into the cameras this time around. There's also some light edge enhancement and slight speckling -- not enough to really distract, but still an unusual amount for a brand new flick from a major studio. I'd imagine much of this has to do with the way the film was lensed rather than how it was transferred, but it's still disappointing considering how stellar the presentation of the original Bring It On is on DVD. Bring It On Again is a low-budget movie and looks it.

 
A screenshot of one cheer routine, as it appears in the movie.   The same image, with some unskilled color correction in Photoshop applied.

Not to second guess the Bring It On Again crew, but shouldn't a movie about cheerleaders in sunny California be...y'know, sunny?

Audio: The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, encoded at a bitrate of 448Kbps, doesn't entirely escape the center-driven trap most comedies fall into, but it makes better use of the six channels at its disposal than most. The music throughout packs a hefty low-end kick, making some nice use of the rears as well. The surrounds also roar with activity during the cheerleading sequences, brimming with applause, crowd noise, and assorted ambiance. I didn't spot any pans from the main speakers to the rears, though there is some occasionally noticeable stereo separation across the front portion of the soundstage. Y'know, okay.

There are also dubs in Spanish and French (also in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a lowered bitrate of 384Kbps) and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: The disc opens with a minute and a half of trailers for The Skulls III (starring Clare Kramer from the original Bring It On and Bryce Johnson) and Johnny English. The trailers can't be skipped by a press of the 'Menu' or 'Skip Chapter' buttons, but fast-forwarding still works.

The first of the extras has choreographer Tony Gonzales running through a five-minute set of "Cheer Do's and Cheer Don'ts", diagramming the importance of safety and communication while also pointing out five frequent stumbling blocks towards cheeristrocracy. The original Bring It On DVD had a subtitle track of 'Fun Facts' that ran for the entire length of the movie, but the sequel just has it over a cover of Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" that plays throughout the end credits. It kind of bounces all over, noting how the lead characters of both movies were named after cities in California and suggesting first names for future sequels, tidbits about the cast and crew, other famous cheerleaders, and even the location of the United States Air Guitar Championships.

"You're On the Set of Bring It On Again" (10:49) is the best extra on the set, thankfully steering clear of most of the pitfalls of DVD featurettes. Far too many are overly fluffy and promotional, riddled with lengthy clips from the movie. Bring It On Again does it right, consisting of more substantial interviews with most of the talent involved, including director Damon Santostefano, producers Tom Bliss and Kelli Konop, choreographer Tony Gonzales, and cast members Bree Turner, Anne Judson-Yager, Bryce Johnson, Faune A. Chambers, and Joie Lenz. They chat about the casting process, the arduous training and rehearsal schedule, having an exceptionally knowledgeable and hard-working choreographer on-hand, and how their perception of cheerleading was reshaped by working on the movie. Along with the interviews is footage from the casting auditions, training sessions, and the requisite behind the scenes clips.

Five minutes or so of deleted and alternate scenes have been included as well, beginning with an extended intro that drags on way too long. There's also additional footage of Greg and a gay-stompin' football player quipping about who can benchpress the most, more Tina-sassin' from Monica, an actual audition from the Renegades' first stab at try-outs (which, hey, was funny! Why cut it?), Francis' smile showcase, and extended congrats after the climactic cheer-off. The letterboxed footage has a rough Avid export quality to it, sporting stereo audio.

"Cheer Along With The Original Bring It On" is the opening chunk of the first flick, with text plastered on the bottom of the screen so viewers can...cheer along with the original Bring It On. Finally, there's a TV spot labeled as a trailer for some reason.

The DVD features a set of static 16x9 enhanced menus, and the movie has been divided into eighteen chapters. The promotional copy I received didn't include an insert, and I dunno if the retail versions have one tucked into the keepcase or not.

Conclusion: Despite its likeable cast, Bring It On Again doesn't rise to the heights of its infectiously fun predecessor. Falling into that nebulously indifferent gray area between 'good' and 'bad', I wouldn't recommend this movie as anything more than a rental.

Related Links: The official site for the Bring It On series includes a trailer-slash-TV-spot for the sequel.
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