Reviewed by

Bud Carlson

Screenwriter Jessica Bendinger hit all the right notes with “Bring It On”, which was a smart and witty teen-genre movie from a half-dozen years ago.  And now she’s back with extra-attitude with the movie “Stick It”, which tries to do for gymnastics what “Bring It On” did for cheerleading.  However, in that effort, “Stick It” fails miserably, and is so genuinely bad that it will no doubt end up on my list of worst movies that I have seen this year.

“Stick It” is really two different stories. The first part of the movie is the story of Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym), the 16-ish year-old Texas girl who made it to the World Gymnastics finals a couple years ago, only to walk away from her last competition and leave gymnastics forever. Now she is a rebellious girl who terrorizes Plano on her skateboard and BMX bike, and avoids organized sports of any kind. When Haley has a run-in with the legal system (she’s charged with vandalism when one of her skating stunts goes badly awry), a plea-bargain is struck: to stay out of Juvenile Hall, she is sent to the Vickerman Gymnastics Academy in Houston, where she is required to resume the discipline of a training regimen and make the most of her natural abilities. VGA is run by Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges), and he explains to Haley that, if she gets her act together and trains hard at his gym, she would have a shot at winning the “IG Classic” gymnastics competition, which would allow her to earn enough money to make restitution for her crime and basically win her rebellious life back. So Haley snarks back-and-forth with Vickerman, and she snarks back-and-forth with the other gymnasts at the Academy, and that’s where the story ends. Yup, that’s it.  Oh, wait, that didn’t take 80 minutes of screen time? Uh-oh, better come up with something else to tack on to it!

So the second part of the movie is the “IG Classic” competition itself. It is explained to us that the judges are tyrannical in their observance of the rules, and that the judging and scoring processes are totally unfair to the competitors. And they gymnasts are sick of it, and are going to use this competition to take a stand on the issue, by determining ahead of time who would win each competition. It’s a whole long drawn-out section of the movie, where the gymnasts (including Haley) basically hijack the competition away from the judges.  

So tell me, why am I supposed to care about the fairness of judging in women’s gymnastics? Believe it or not, this is not one of the world’s great inequities that keeps me up at hight. Given that all of the competitors at the meet keep intentionally defaulting in protest of this, for the movie “Stick It” to work at all, we the audience have to be totally convinced of the social significance of it. But they don’t even come close to accomplishing that, and the movie leaves us wondering why we are sitting here watching this!

“Stick It” is not a good movie. From the perspective of a teen-genre movie, “Stick It” is poor: the opening is like a bad X-Games sequence, the video effects are from the 1970, and not even the soundtrack is fresh. From the perspective of “Stick It” as a action-drama, it falls flat on its face.  If you liked “Bring It On” and want to see “Stick It” as a result, do yourself a favor and just go rent “Bring It On” again and skip “Stick It” altogether.

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