Pity poor Kirsten Dunst, - a first-division leading-lady-in-waiting seemingly consigned to the dustbin of teenybopper pap. While The Virgin Suicides may have signalled a career step forward, Dunst has unfortunately decided to take her act four steps back with Bring It On.
Granted, you have to take your critical thinking cap off to any filmwhich takes you inside a girls' locker room, however brief and limited the exposure. But a wee bit of ironic detachment would have gone a lot further than catching Dunst in her knickers in this interminable (and often laughable) feature-length assault on the senses. Predictably, Bring It On fails to supply even an ounce of irony.
Elected by her bright-eyed peers the captain of her high-school squad, Kirsten's pom pom is burst when she's forced to confront the dirty tactics of her well-to-do schoolmates. Dunst, naturally, is determined to do the right thing. Along the way, there's plenty of opportunity for her to fall in love with the new boy in school (Jesse Bradford), become best mates with his equally streetwise sister (Eliza Dushku), raise money (and remove clothing) in a charity car wash, and fight off the machinations of her chief rivals on the cheer-squad.
Sounds a little too familiar? It should, as Bring It On doesn't miss a bubble-gum beat. But the cookie-cutter script does provide a few asides on the sexuality of male cheerleaders, along with a running gag about Dunst's relationship with her flatulent, GameBoy addicted brother - perhaps as a periodic reminder that the story is taking place in the present and not back in 1956.
Remarkably, Dunst is one of those actresses who can shine through anything. Even this. Once again, she proves herself smarter and sexier than the mess she's in and remains, as always, eminently watchable. We'd just like to watch her in something else.
If you're looking for a primer on the back-stabbing backstage world of cheerleading, this is your movie. Anyone else, forget it. Dunst is one of Hollywood's most exciting new faces, but she should move on. Girl, you've outgrown this training bra of a film.