Two girl-crazy high school football players (Eric Christian Olsen and Nicolas D’Agfosto) ditch their Tourette’s syndrome prone coach (Phillip Baker Hall) and football camp in favor of cheerleader camp where, amazingly, they fit right in. Initially there only to mock and seduce the earnest cheerleaders, our two heroes eventually grow to care about their cheer teammates and about cheerleading in general.
The plot of Fired Up! is so simple and irresistibly sleazy, it could have been used either as the plot of a Saved by the Bell episode or as the premise of a late night movie on Cinemax. What almost saves the movie is the smart-alecky screenplay by Freedom Jones. This movie knows how dumb it is and clearly wants to mock the tired clichés of cheerleaders-with-hearts-of-gold-overcoming-opposing-squads-and-personal-differences movies, of which there have been far too many.
I wasn’t a fan of Bring It On and neither is this movie, which teases the idiocy of that Kirsten Dunst “classic” in one priceless scene. Yet whether you have no appetite for pom-pom cinema or never miss a movie about the universal power of school spirit, you’ll likely find Fired Up! to be as surprisingly humorous as I did.
D’Agosto and especially Oldsen are a funny pair and energize the movie when the wit runs dry. Imagine if Bring It On was invaded by the two lovable losers from Dude, Where’s My Car?, who proceeded to take over the film and mock every dumb thing that happens. That’s this movie. For a while, it works and the genuine laughs overcome the eye-rollingly bad moments.
Exactly what Hall, a distinguished actor, is doing in a movie like this I’m not sure. But he manages to milk laughs from a role that requires little beyond spouting profanity. Jon Michael Higgins, on the other hand, is one of the film’s secret weapons. His scenes as the psychotic cheerleader camp ringleader are a riot.
The whole thing looks like it could’ve worked, had Jones written an ending that wasn’t so flat. Much of the movie coasts on its (pardon the pun) cheerful attitude, funny one-liners and dumb-and-proud-of-it attitude, but the wrap-up is such a dud, you walk away feeling unsatisfied. As guilty pleasures go, this one is better than most. It looked like it was on its way to being a nice surprise on par with the Harold and Kumar films. Instead, you get the equivalent of a cheer routine that begins rousingly but ends with a smiling blonde getting tossed into the air, only to lose her focus in mid-flight and fall atop the pyramid pile, knocking all of her teammates unconscious. MTW