In some corner of the universe I've never visited, high school is 100% about cheerleading. A hyper-perky version of this world is presented in Bring It On.

Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) just became the captain of the Toros, the national cheerleading champions of Rancho Carne High School in San Diego (whose football team is truly awful). Torrance is thrilled to be leading the squad, and excited about new member/"punk" rebel Missy (Eliza Dushku) -- plus her cute and cool brother Cliff (Jesse Bradford) -- until scandal strikes.

It turns out that Big Red (Lindsay Sloane), the squad's previous captain, had stolen the routines from the East Compton Clovers, an inner-city high school. Isis (Gabrielle Union), the Clovers' captain, throws the theft in Torrance's face -- and plans to have the Clovers compete agains the Toros in the national cheerleading championships. Can Torrance come up with a new routine? Will she realize what a jerk her college boyfriend Aaron (Richard Hillman) is?

As you may have gathered, Bring It On isn't about life-or-death issues -- though it feels like it is to the movie's characters. This movie is knowingly silly, from bitchy teens and goofy choreographer Sparky (Ian Roberts) to slow-motion moves and a soundtrack that rears up every time we're supposed to feel an emotion.

Director Peyton Reed keeps things moving at a good clip, and he plays to his actresses' strengths: Dunst as the perky idealist, Dushku as the loner-with-a-heart-of-gold (who oddly becomes Torrance's best friend quickly, despite the latter's much longer relationships with her squad members), and Union as someone who feels slighted at beign ripped off but still has plenty of integrity.And the final competition is a very nice display of choreography and energy.

Despite some fun leads, Bring It On is both predictable and superficial. DVD extras are also fairly sparse: a little behind-the-scenes, factiods that pop up during the movie, and a composite of the handheld movies made when just about every crew member turned up for the bikini car wash scene. Bring It On is fun at times, but this is one clearly for teens.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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