While a new American Girls arrives in horror film version, the franchise leaves behind 6 teen movies of very unequal quality, including the very first, a classic of the genre, with Kristen Dunst and Eliza Dushku.
There was a time not so long ago when teenagers were at the center of fairly low-end films, stuck between schoolboy comedy and silly romance. Some titles stuck and American Girls might just be one of those.
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Bring It On / American Girls (2000)
From its original name Bring It On, American Girls arrived in cinemas in 2000. A success upon its release, the film earned its stripes as a classic of the genre in video clubs. Far from being a vulgar soulless teen movie, American Girls is a rather ironic comedy about the world of cheerleaders. And if we find there the very young Kristen Dunstcrowned by the success of Virgin Suicides the year before and Eliza Dushku, Release buffythere is also a cast of cool faces to recognize like the young Jesse Bradfordwho will not make a great career but who will be among other things in the teen thriller swim fan or in the rip-off of Back to the future, Top lap times.
Clare Krameralso escaped from buffy, Bianca Kajlichwhich will be found later in Boston Audience and Dawsonand Gabrielle Union who had just played in two quasi-cult films She’s so great and 10 good reasons to dump you, complete the cast.
The other curiosity is that the director is none other than Peyton Reedwhich will become ultra-famous with Ant Man in 2015. After a few achievements in TV and American Girls, he will produce three rather nice comedies, Bye Bye Love, La Rupture and Yes Man.
The story of American Girls is pretty basic, clan rivalry, bickering, romance, American Girls ticks all the boxes of the classic teen movie. But there is this little thing, this sweet irony that floats around and makes fun of the rather closed world of cheerleaders. So obviously, it’s with the look of the 90s/2000s. We still make fun of homosexuality and the relationship between man and woman. However, this tone that floats for 1h30 helps the film become a rather entertaining comedy.
It’s pretty daring on the joke side, it’s not salacious like an American Pie but this kind of humor sometimes contrasts with the general tone of the mainstream film. They could have done much more daring seen the sexual enough universe in which the film evolves. Besides, we can only talk about the staging of Peyton Reed. You can’t say that he doesn’t like to film from a low angle. Everything is done to highlight the buttocks of actresses or put the chest in advantageous perspective.
If, personally, I still know the opening song in VF by heart, I also have the memory of a funny film, full of energy and which rarely misses its moments of comedy. Which will be far from being the case for the following films…
Due to the success of the film, sequels were made. bring it on was followed by 5 offspring: Bring It On Again (2004), Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006), Bring It On: In It to Win It (2007), Bring It On: Fight to the Finish (2009) and Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack (2017). The youngest, Bring It On: Cheer or Die (2022)just aired in the US on SyFy.
Bring It On Again / American Girls 2 (2004)
Same concept, different cast. We take strangers for this film made without passion and without efficiency. It must be said, the dance numbers are square. If we regret a redundancy in the figures in the 6 films, there is all the same an undeniable know-how which makes the films pleasant to watch from this point of view like the franchise of Step Up / Sexy Dance for dance numbers.
The casting will be cheap, we will just notice Bethany Joy Lenzwhich had just begun The Scott brothersand Felicia Dayupcoming geek icon for his role in buffy, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and The Guild.
The ridiculous side of cheerleading, yet respected in the United States, is highlighted when it comes to leaving official competitions. There is still a total respect for discipline.
This second film is a failure, neither funny nor particularly interesting. We abandon the spectacular side of the cheerleading competition for a flat teenage romance.
American Girls 3 / Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006)
It’s a little funnier, it plays a lot on rivalries, it puts the package on the teen movie side and the dance is a little put aside to come back at the end of the story… with a guest Rihanna ! We feel that Step Up comes out the same year. Urban dance makes its appearance in choreography! In the casting, we note the presence of solange Knowlessister of Beyonce !
We are still not surprised by the twists but it is already better than the previous one.
American Girls 4: War of the Blondes / Bring It On: In It to Win It (2007)
Ashley Benson as a cheerleader, it’s already a good reason to watch this opus. It’s a classic rivalry story with a little romance filmed in a Universal park. We return to somewhat crude dialogues and a VF that does what it wants. There’s a lot of dancing… but we’re bored. The same situations again and again make this third sequel not very interesting.
A year later, Ashley Benson will return to the uniform for Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandala TV movie based on a true story.
American Girls 5: Bring It On: Fight to the Finish (2009)
The franchise knows that Step Up has already been a hit with two films in 2006 and 2008. We therefore make the film a little more urban with the addition of young people from the ghetto or poor suburbs. Christine Milian is the star of this sequel which plays to the fullest on all the worn-out clichés of films about young people from the suburbs.
The VF underlines this fact even more. Attitude, language, we swim in full caricature. The film, however, manages to gain interest by plots a little thicker than the simple rivalry. The characters exist, evolve and are not transparent.
American Girls 6: Global Showdown / Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack (2017)
8 years after the last film, American Girls is attempting a revolution with a frank and clean cut in tone. The silly comedy is no longer there, we are really in a film very inspired by Step Up. We add social networks, harassment and Cristine Prospericrowned by the success of Degrassiholds the film at arm’s length.
Like the previous film, this sixth opus tries to build several characters, each with a palpable progression. If it is still not executed with great delicacy, the film is also weighed down by a lazy staging. The dance numbers are getting boring, we are no longer in cheerleading but in a real urban dance competition.
All the films open with a nightmare of the captain of the team. All ? No, the sixth, who wants to stand out from the ready-made recipe, even plays on this gimmick with a heroine who believes herself to be in a dream.
Ditto for the end, each film ends with a song with the cast dancing. We bet on Rihanna or Christina Milian, and even Ashley Tisdale. Again, the sixth film prefers to do otherwise. It will take 5 years for the franchise to return. No more teen movie/romance/cheeky combo and hello slasher since Cheer or Die is a horror movie!
Bring It On: Cheer or Die (2022)
The film is a disaster. The staging, the editing and the lighting are heartbreaking. Nothing saves the film except the last half hour which, oddly, takes the turn of comedy and which manages a little bit to give birth to a bit of interest. The film seems broke, amateurish and ultimately has nothing to do with the rest of the franchise…
Influences and origins
It won’t be the first time cheerleaders have been at the center of a horror story as there have been Jennifer’s Body in 2009, All Cheerleaders Die in 2013, the recent Tragedy Girls in 2019 and even Satan’s Cheerleaders in 1977!
Bring It On didn’t really pave the way for cheerleading-themed exploitation films. There has been Close Guard in 2005, or Fired Up! in 2009 soberly called in France, Sea Sex & Fun…
Sugar & Spice was produced almost at the same time as the first Bring It On. We found there Marla Sokoloff, Marley Shelton, Melissa George, Mena Suvari, Rachel Blanchard, Alexandra Holden and James Marsden in a dark comedy with a radically different tone from Bring It On.
The first film was parodied in Not Another Teen Moviebetter known in France under the name sex academy.
Porn parody? How could a producer miss an obvious diversion from the cheerleader fantasy? So we have Bring It on XXX Parody which does not at all have the head of an obvious parody…
On the other hand, on the musical side, American Girls was entitled to its adaptation, led, all the same, by Lin Manuel Miranda. In a totally original story, Bring It On: The Musical dates from 2011.
With 7 films with varying fortunes, a light parody, an X and a musical, Bring It On is rather a franchise that is lost. With a concept that is less and less relevant, we won’t remember much…