4 July 2009

Movie Review: Fired Up


Fired Up
2009, 90mins, PG-13
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Freedom Jones
Cast includes: Eric Christian Olsen, Nicholas D'Agosto, Sarah Roemer, John Michael Higgins, Molly Sims, Danneel Harris, Anna Lynne McCord
Release Date: 20th February 2009

“Fired Up” is essentially undiluted generic storytelling peppered by the odd effective moment of improv and lashings of acid tongued wit. In several small doses it might actually feel like a decent film but when digested as a full feature it’s a distinctly stark and barren experience. There are little oasis’s of comedic relief strewn throughout but overall “Fired Up” is an arduous trek through a harsh desert of predictable storytelling and teen movie templates. You’ll need to be something of a cinematic survivalist to enjoy the entire experience, that’s for sure.

Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) and Shawn (Nicholas D’Agosto) are the two most popular jocks in school, but another summer of an all male and intensely gruelling football camp doesn’t sound that appealing. So in a bid to create a more flavoursome season they decide to go to cheerleading camp, packed to the roof with hot girls with Nick and Shawn the only single and heterosexual guys on campus. They slot into their school team “The Tigers” and whilst most of the squad buy Nick and Shawn’s feigned enthusiasm captain Carly (Sarah Roemer) isn’t so sure. However as the camp kicks of and the inter school competition heats up she and Shawn begin to get close, much to the disdain of skirt chasing Nick. After enjoying his fill of woman by the camps halfway point Nick wants out but Shawn infatuated by Carly thinks they should stay and help their struggling team, leaving their friendship in an awkward position.

“Fired Up” would have been very much at home in the 80’s and late 90’s and now thanks to the success of 2007’s “Superbad” it looks like the current climate is set to be a staple in the teen movie timeline. The Apatow revival of the genre has kick started this pocket milking trend once more and whilst it will inevitably run out of its limited artistic steam and financial potential within two years, right now it’s cool to be making teen orientated flicks. “Fired Up” isn’t at the very nadir of the genre but it’s an utterly forgettable and borderline tedious experience, riddled with some minor moments of fun hi-jinks but mostly bogged down by soggy scripting and a patchy gag rate. Plus the performances are unsurprisingly a whisker short of average, never mind revolutionary.

One of the most distracting aspects of the film is the fact that the leading men are meant to be about 17 but in reality they’re either side of 30. D’Agosto is 28 and Olsen 31 and seeing as neither demonstrates much in the way of flair I have to ask why casting wasn’t done closer to age. I’m used to seeing 21 and 22 year olds play teenagers but that is at times visually acceptable, with the leading pair they haven’t been teens for at least a decade and it shows to the point of annoyance. Despite looking ridiculously mature for the parts Olsen and D’Agosto also fail to do anything remotely memorable with them, they’re chemistry is so-so but the comedy pratfalls and routines they ping around are absurdly half hearted. It goes without saying that the film fails to build Nick and Shawn into anything else but sporty clowns but what is more offensive is that the creative team also fails to make them likable. Nick in particular is a top grade asshole and not a character the viewer is likely to empathise with.

As the head of the cheer camp John Michael Higgins easily scores the films most assured and entertaining moments whilst around him other support slowly dies in the pulsating heat of mediocrity. Sarah Roemer was nothing more than a token babe with attitude in “Disturbia” and she replicates that here (Though “Disturbia” was a far superior film) whilst Anna Lynne McCord gives a fabulously lazy turn as a bitchy cheer nemesis. Other semi-famous names also feature including Danneel Harris (also guilty of playing teenagers at nearly 30) and Phillip Baker Hall, though none make much of an impression.

The jokes aren’t particularly inspired and the films attempts at irreverent improvisation often feel forced and stale. On a few occasions Olsen managed to display a modestly quick wit and cook up some sweet comedy relief but at other junctures he goes too far and sours proceedings with his unnecessary vamping. For a PG-13 movie I was shocked by how few poop and fart jokes “Fired Up” launches at the audience but it makes them up in tame penis references and over emphasised regaling of sexual conquest. Also for a movie in which are heroes are meant to be romantic dynamos all the viewer is treated to are a few make out scenes and implied oral sex, hardly the stuff that made Casanova legend.

The film cribs from “Bring it On” and expects a direct reference to said movie to excuse the theft, it might in legal terms but not in the statutory book of good entertainment. In terms of quality those movies are pretty much on equal ground, namely that they’re hit rate with quality gags is inconsistent and from every other stand point boredom is the most likely reaction. The most undemanding of viewers might enjoy “Fired Up” and its very slight roster of impressive material, forgiving the narrative shortcomings because it’s “just an airheaded cheerleading movie”. Well I’d just rather that type of feature didn’t exist in the first place, certainly that’s not what made John Hughes and Judd Apatow power this genre in their respective eras with such delicious success.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2009


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