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Bring It On (PG-13)

Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union, Eliza Dushku

Release Date: August 25, 2000

Runtime: 1 hr. 40 mins.

Genre: Comedy

Torrance Shipman is a typical all-American high school girl. Since being named captain of her school's championship-winning cheerleading squad, the San Diego Toros, she's on top of the world. She's determined that nothing-not even her homework, her nagging parents or her perfect college boyfriend-get in the way of leading her squad to its sixth consecutive national title. But the Toro's have some stiff competition this time out from the Clovers, an inner-city, hip-hop squad from Los Angeles. When Torrance learns that her predecessor has been stealing cheer routines for years from the rival squad, she realizes that the Clovers and their captain Isis are looking to even the score and that the Toro's are in big trouble. Things get even worse when Torrance finds herself falling for Cliff, an outsider from school with whom she normally would never associate, and with the national championships only a few weeks away, the pressure is on.

Review

Two squads, one championship ... cue the techno music and let the rumble begin!

Story
Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) is on top of the world, having just been named captain of the Rancho Carne Toros pep squad, a five-time national championship team. But when she discovers that her award-winning routines are being ripped off by a competing squad, Shipman must act fast to save her team's reputation. The formula works because it never takes itself too seriously, a comical blend of saccharine sincerity and self-mockery, complete with memorable lines like ''Missy's the poo, so take a big whiff.'' But the plot does go deeper than one might expect, thanks to a couple of expected twists. And when the final showdown arrives, the tension mounts - which, if you've ever seen the national cheerleading tournaments on ESPN, is no surprise.

Acting
Eighteen-year-old Dunst (''The Virgin Suicides'') is already a veteran talent, but her skill falls a bit flat with an exaggerated portrayal of an eternally perky pep leader. Fortunately, her over-pepped performance is toned down by ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer'' Goth-chic beauty Eliza Dushku as the reluctant, sarcastic new squad member. Gabrielle Union (''She's All That''), backed by members of the sassy soul/R&B group Blaque, is fiery as the driven captain of the Clovers. Jesse Bradford (''Romeo + Juliet'') is affable as Torrance's love interest, but comes close to overusing Meg Ryan's crooked-smile-for-cuteness technique.

Direction
Peyton Reed, whose highest-profile projects were remakes of Disney's ''The Love Bug'' and ''The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes,'' keeps the focus simple: the bright cheerleader outfits and the acrobatic routines. Save for a dream sequence and a hilarious tryout scene, Reed avoids the flashier kitsch his teen-film contemporaries have relied on. He also lets the tension build naturally during the cheerleading competitions. Just see if you can resist holding your breath during the 20-foot tosses.

Bottom Line
Surprisingly fun fare, ''Bring It On'' wins the popularity contest.



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Starring Kirsten Dunst, Gabrielle Union, Jesse Bradford, Eliza Dushku and Claire Kramer.
Directed by Peyton Reed. Produced by Marc Abraham. Screenplay by Jessica Bendinger. Released by Universal.

Synopsis

Torrance Shipman is a typical all-American high school girl. Since being named captain of her school's championship-winning cheerleading squad, the San Diego Toros, she's on top of the world. She's determined that nothing-not even her homework, her nagging parents or her perfect college boyfriend-get in the way of leading her squad to its sixth consecutive national title. But the Toro's have some stiff competition this time out from the Clovers, an inner-city, hip-hop squad from Los Angeles. When Torrance learns that her predecessor has been stealing cheer routines for years from the rival squad, she realizes that the Clovers and their captain Isis are looking to even the score and that the Toro's are in big trouble. Things get even worse when Torrance finds herself falling for Cliff, an outsider from school with whom she normally would never associate, and with the national championships only a few weeks away, the pressure is on.