By Paul Martinez
"Stick It" is the first attempt at a gymnastics movie
since "American Anthem" (1986), and not a whole lot has improved in the genre
in 20 years.
It's a decent concept: a troubled
teen finds redemption in athletics, in the mean time exposing the gymnastics
judging system for what it is. But the acting kills it. The best acting in
this film is curiously from the adults playing bit parts.
For instance, in one of the opening
scenes Haley is sentenced by the juvenile judge to VGA, Vickerson Gymnastic
Academy. The mother flips out. "VGA! Are you crazy? This is not OK. Don't
do this to her!"
And the judges are completely in
character. Even at the pre-event banquet they are criticizing what everybody
is wearing - which is too close to reality if the film's ending is to believed.
And after reading this review someone will probably accuse me of being an
unreasonable critic like those judges, but then they probably haven't seen
All the characters are badly
undeveloped, which is strange for a Disney picture. It doesn't help that
four of Haley's eight teammates do not get to say a single line. They might
as well have been pieces of furniture in the gym. Were the producers too
obvious in trying to save some budget?
Director Jessica Bendinger sticks
to the formula that has worked so well in her two major releases, cheerleading
films "Bring It On" and "Bring It On Again." But what worked so well for
cheerleading doesn't really make sense in gymnastics.
Missy Peregrym reprises Eliza Dushku's
role from "Bring It On" as the troubled but tremendously talented athlete
with attitude, who has to be forced to participate but ends up carrying the
team. Peregrym has talent and looks, but her character is too "xtreme" to
have any charisma.
Similar to calling the high school
RCH in "Bring It On," Bendinger sticks to formula in calling the academy
VGA (I'll leave it to the reader to figure that one out). And let's not even
talk about the film's title. Except to say you're supposed to exchange the
working title with the real one prior to release.
Honestly, the title killed me. Who
other than a teen gymnast is going to go up to the box office and say that
with a straight face?
Which I guess says all you need
to know. It is difficult to relate to this picture unless you are a gymnastics
participant, and that pretty much eliminates 98 percent of the human race.
This is where Bendinger's formula failed, because in the cheerleading movies,
anybody who went to high school can relate.
Real life Olympic gold medalists
Carly Patterson, Nadia Comaneci, Bart Conner all play themselves in cameos
in the end sequence. 2005 European floor champ Isabelle Severino is Missy
Peregrym's uncredited stunt double. PHOTOSPORT athlete-models Tarah Paige
and Kari Muth, both former ranked collegiate gymnasts, were among the
Rating: 8.95 (in gymnastics scoring)
Quotability: Good: "Rebel Without Applause, "Stalk