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Bring It On: In It To Win It

Universal // PG-13 // December 18, 2007
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted December 19, 2007 | E-mail the Author
Thank goodness for the "Bring It On" franchise. If not for these movies, where else would strippers go to learn their moves?

Oh, but I kid "Bring It On" and its horrible, horrible, horrible sequels. The latest direct-to-video entry in this seemingly unkillable series is "Bring It On: In It To Win It," and it's another in-name-only follow-up that's as irritating and vacuous as its title.

For this chapter, we're taken to a cheerleading camp that's being held, conveniently, at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, which allows Universal to essentially make this a ninety-minute infomercial for its resorts. The teens smile at all the friendly sites, they stay at the Hard Rock Hotel (there's actually a Hard Rock Hotel? Kill me now.), and yes, their final cheer routine is inspired by the Dueling Dragons rollercoaster, which gets plenty of screen time throughout the picture. Book your vacation today!

Amid all this advertising, screenwriter Alyson Fouse and director Steve Rash (both responsible for the previous entry, "Bring It On: All or Nothing") manage to squeeze in something of a story, one with more than a few winking nods to "West Side Story," of all things: the West Coast Sharks and the East Coast Jets are bitter rivals planning to one-up each other at this year's camp championships. But wouldn't ya know it, Carson (Ashley Benson), the captain of the Sharks, has fallen hard for Penn (Michael Copon), ace dancer for the Jets. Somewhere in the middle of all this, and in the middle of Universal Studios Orlando, they have a "cheer rumble."

Yes, most of the first half of this movie is reminiscent of "You Got Served," with "cheer-offs" dropping left and right. This would be mildly enjoyable, especially to the hardcore cheer fans who have managed to keep this franchise going for the past few years, if not for the somber fact that the cheer-dancing isn't very interesting. These scenes are sloppily filmed and edited, with choreography that often leans more toward regular old dancing than actual cheerleading. Cheer fans will likely walk away from this one feeling a bit gypped, wondering where the good stuff was.

And it's not like the movie doesn't have plenty of room to try. There are cheerleading scenes every few minutes, be they cheer-offs or practice routines or random cutaway shots or the big finale, where we get to watch several squads do their thing. None of these sequences contain enough energy to click.

What we're left, then, is a clumsy comedy that can't find a target audience. The film is produced by Universal's Family Entertainment division, which probably explains such hackneyed themes as "being true to yourself" - one overlong sequence has the teens Breakfast Clubbing it, revealing their innermost secrets, declaring they're not going to try to impress others with fake personalities and such. The second half of the film covers two bases - a "spirit stick" subplot that brings bad luck to the team that loses a haunted totem (think Greg Brady goes to Hawaii), and a third-act team-up in which the Sharks and Jets join forces (becoming the unfortunately named "Shets") to trump the nasty Flamingos from a rival cheer camp.

These stories, plus the dopey romance angle and the good-friends-stick-together bits, all push the movie toward younger audiences who might find such things thrilling. But on top of all of this, the script dumps in plenty of sex talk, trampy attitudes, and PG-13-level language; the idea here, I imagine, is to match the winking cutesy-smutty attitudes of the original "Bring It On." If older audiences are sought, why dumb down the story so much?

It's a schizophrenic move that leaves the film without any real proper audience, unless, I suppose, your youngest daughter just watched "Bratz," has decided she really wants to become a skank, and is looking for further training in such a field. But even then, it's not a very good movie; the acting's flat, the writing's miserable, the comedy's a mess, the direction worse. It's pop fluff at its most forgettable. And that's not even mentioning the eye-rolling "goth chick cheerleader" storyline or "cheer poker" scene. Yikes.

Just how far will Universal go with this series? As far as they can, I imagine - there's no real need to make sure they're actually, you know, any good, as long as they pull in enough of a profit. Between this and the "American Pie" line, the studio is the king of DTV sequels nobody really wants, and they show no sign of giving up the throne anytime soon.


Video & Audio

Remember a time when direct-to-video movies looked cheap and crummy? Those days are long gone, at least when it comes to studio-sponsored numbers like this. For all its problems as an actual movie, presentation isn't one of them. "In It To Win It" looks absolutely sparkling in this anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer, which lets the bright colors and Florida scenery pop off the screen in crisp detail, with only the tiniest amount of film grain present. The audio's also a pure winner, with a solid Dolby 5.1 mix deftly handling the movie's constantly busy soundtrack. French and Spanish dubs are also available (both in 5.1), as are optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.


Seven deleted scenes (9:33 total) offer little beyond extra character moments that aren't very memorable. Only an extended opening sequence, which expands on an early dance routine, sticks out.

"Lights, Camera, Bring It!" (9:13) is a dopey EPK-style making-of that delivers generic on-set interviews and brief commentary on how the cast learned how to cheer. When we're not looking, they manage to sneak in a couple shout-outs to the Universal theme park. Both this featurette and the deleted scenes are presented in non-anamorphic letterbox.

Cheer choreographer Tony G walks you through four cheer how-tos: "East Coast Proper" (4:49), "West Coast Flair" (5:24), "The Rumble with Tony G" (16:56), and "Cheer Off! Learn How To Cheer with Tony G" (8:03). Cheerleaders and fans might find this stuff useful; the less physically coordinated of you will take a pass. All four segments are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.

A set of previews for other Universal titles plays as the disc loads; you can skip past them if you choose.

Final Thoughts

Even the most ardent of fans will surely start to find this franchise growing too tiresome, while their parents will already know this isn't worth the time. Cheerleader fanatics will do fine to simply Rent It for a dopey evening's entertainment, and everyone else should completely Skip It.
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