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Baity’s got zero spirit fingers for Fired Up

by Glen Baity

Sometimes I find myself so far outside a film’s target demographic I feel bad for criticizing it. Fired Up is almost such a film. I am no longer in high school, and I have never been a cheerleader, or someone who appreciates cheerleading very much at all. Normally, I’d acknowledge the possibility that maybe I just don’t get it. But no. Every now and then, you have to put your foot down and point out that no matter how obviously not for you a certain film is, it is nevertheless impossible — impossible — that anyone, anywhere, could enjoy even two minutes of such a transparent piece of crap. I’ve never walked out of a movie I planned to review, but Fired Up was so far beyond merely bad I’ll admit to being tempted. How bad is it? Dude, Where’s My Car bad. Meet the Spartans bad. It’s in prestigious company. It’s about Nick and Shawn (Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D’Agosto), who are the stars of their high school football team and unrepentant ladies’ men. It’s the end of summer and time to buckle down and practice, but instead of spending two weeks at football camp — full of sweaty dudes and, y’know, work — they decide to pose as male cheerleaders and hit up cheer camp for fresh conquests from neighboring schools. And so they are thrust into the world of Southeastern Illinois Regional cheerleading, which evidently means plastic, gullible young women, easy gay jokes and bad pratfalls. They enthusiastically indulge in all three over the course of this interminable film, which views like Wedding Crashers with massive brain trauma. According to their IMDB pages, D’Agosto and Olsen are 28 and 32, respectively. To say they look a bit long in the tooth for high schoolers would be an understatement; this casting borders on the grotesque. Memo to director Will Gluck: We’re in the age of HD now. If your “teenager” has crow’s feet, we’ll notice. D’Agosto, for his part, was much more convincing as a teen 11 years ago in the better-in-every-way Election. Their true ages aside, he and Olsen both seem to be channeling Stifler here, all smirking confidence and appalling pick-up lines. This is supposed to be charming. It is not. The fact that we’re supposed to find these two nascent womanizers at all loveable indicates just how tone deaf the filmmakers are. The supporting cast is mostly comprised of starlets unknown outside of Stuff magazine top 100 lists, but does feature a few notably unfunny performances by the otherwise-talented John Michael Higgins and Philip Baker Hall. Their presence only increases the already-crushing sadness. The teen sex romp is nothing new, but Fired Up is one of those strange, PG-13 versions that misses the mark entirely. It clearly yearns to be really, really vulgar, but presumably an R-rated movie about high school cheerleaders wouldn’t appeal to a wide enough audience. So Fired Up is chock full of coy allusions to explicit sexual activities, which gives it a strange, frankly unpleasant vibe. It’s full of stuff a 12-yearold might find hilarious, but it’s so sex-obsessed it’s hardly appropriate for anyone that age. And it’s far, far too dumb for anyone who has already made it through puberty. So who is it for? That’s one of the questions you can ponder with all time you’ll spend not laughing. It’s far too early to compile a Worst of ’09 list, but I’ll go out on a limb here: Fired Up will be near the top of that pyramid.

To comment on this story, send your e-mail to glen. baity@gmail.com.

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