Stick It to the critics

Concerned about your safety? You should be, because the entire Pittsburgh SWAT team was out in full force last Wednesday to watch some undersized teen queens handspring, roundoff, and flip-flap their way to victory. Walking into the advanced screening of the new film Stick It, I was stopped outside of theater 10 to have my Puma bag searched by some man who didn’t even ask where I bought it!

Making the first cut, I was accosted by an outstretched wand ready to caress my inner thighs. Not beeping in any strange places, the wand allowed me to keep my course. All I wanted was to find my seat and bask in the movie, an encore performance to writer and director Jessica Bendinger’s life-changing Bring It On (if for no other reason than that so-damn-catchy “DAAAMMMN IT SMELLS IN HURR” tribal chant). But I couldn’t even do that! At least, I couldn’t do it before I was interrogated on whether I had smuggled “tapes, CDs, DVDs, video cameras...” into the theater. Yes, I happened to bring along my extensive collection of Salt-N-Pepa cassette tapes. All I needed was a swinging light bulb and a good cop/bad cop routine and the scene would have screamed Guantanamo.

I shouldn’t be so tough. I mean, they were looking out for my safety, right? Just making sure I wasn’t carrying an explosive. If only they had put Touchstone Pictures through the same investigation — they seem to be the ones who really smuggled in the bomb.

What do reviews of Stick It and house-training my family’s new puppy have in common? Both involve a waste of newspaper. Realizing Stick It’s target audience isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination. The prepubescent girls surrounding me at the movie’s screening (the same ones screeching for a free T-shirt to be thrown their way by some disc jockey known only as “Jorge”) don’t care what Roger Ebert has to say about their flick — they just wanna know when the sequel is coming straight to video!

Here’s the story anyway. Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is busted for trespassing after playing some makeshift X-games on private property. (Aw, man! Cops suck!) The judge (that funny elderly woman from Mrs. Doubtfire) sends her off to VGA, an elite gymnast training facility, for some Olympic-style reformation. Oh! Haley used to be a world-champion gymnast, before she bucked it all at “Worlds” and tarnished her career. The skeleton hanging next to the black shirts in her closet explains that one.

VGA is run by Burt Vickerman, played by veteran actor Jeff Bridges. Well, “veteran” enough for you to wonder, “Wait. What the hell is Jeff Bridges doing in this movie?” when he’s introduced during a sequenced pan of spread-eagle gymnast thighs. Other critics have called Bridges the film’s saving grace — a perfect-10 performance in a pool of mediocrity — but I was too distracted by his starched popped collar to notice. He rides around on an old tractor while the girls train, and it is never explained why.

See? I can’t really tear this movie to pieces, because I know it’s going to put you and me in the same position someday — not moving as we pick it up on TNT and can’t tear away until the credits roll and we’re left with the all-too-common I-just-spent-75-minutes-of-my-life-watching-a-movie-on-TNT guilt complex.

The critic is supposed to tell you to go see other, more “important” movies than Stick It. Movies that don’t play like a 90-minute Pussycat Dolls video, or at least don’t feature computerized sequences of synchronized floor exercises. But I can’t do that. Not for this paper, not for this movie. Because we, my fellow students, are the Kerri Strug generation. Come on! You remember!