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Bring It On
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Kirsten Dunst is still just 18 now, after a career that includes "Interview with the Vampire," "Wag the Dog," "Dick," and "Drop Dead Gorgeous," in the first of which she was eerily powerful as the beautiful child of eternal death/life, and in the last three of which she played perky teens. Which she also does here, as Torrance Shipman, the new captain of a San Diego high school cheerleading squad that's won five national titles in a row. The pressure is on to add a sixth, which is where the plot thickens. It turns out that those winning routines were stolen from an L.A. inner-city high-school squad, which should have won instead. So now Torrance must find a way to give her team a new routine and still go to nationals.
There isn't much to the film, other than a number of brilliant routines at the climax as both Torrance's team and the East Compton team compete at the nationals. The script is basic: Torrance has a boyfriend who turns out to be a rat, she finds her best friend Missy (Eliza Dushku) has a brother (Jesse Bradford) who's not -- a variation on "Clueless" -- and she leads the team to the nationals. There's some racial tension hinted at as she spars with Isis, the leader of the mostly-black L.A. team (Gabrielle Union), then tries to make things better in a white, noblesse-oblige sort of way, and learns a bit of a lesson.
The film has some charming moments, including a running gag in which the school's football team, fond of gay-bashing the boys in the cheerleading squad, cannot win a game while the cheerleaders are national champions. And although we see no sex, there's a nice scene that's nothing more than Dunst and Bradford in their pajamas, brushing their teeth side by side, with every possible hint and overtone we can imagine, all while the two simply stand and brush. Both actors deserve a better film than this. <! new pasted review ends on line above>