I knew I was in for some teenage mayhem when I first encountered the “Fired Up” preview audience - giddy high school cheerleaders. Still, I held out hope, thinking of how much I enjoyed 2000’s cheerleading epic “Bring It On.”
Within the first five minutes, all hope was lost.
Let’s start with the film’s premise. Best friends and girl magnets Shawn (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) are star high school football players dreading their upcoming, girl-free football camp. They concoct a scheme to join their school’s failing cheerleading squad so they can attend a cheer camp overflowing with girls.
Carly (Sara Roemer), the cheer captain, is suspicious of their real motives, but the squad is desperate to redeem itself at camp this year, so she reluctantly agrees. The movie’s tagline can summarize the rest: “2 Guys. 300 Girls. You Do the Math.”
This movie is what it is - a teen sex comedy in the poorest of taste. It was particularly uncomfortable to watch these oversexed men (and men they are, Eric Christian Olsen is 31 years old and looks every creepy year of it) easily lure girl after girl into their arms while surrounded by real life high school girls who look nothing like the collagen-enhanced, pseudo-port stars on the screen.
Nick and Shawn’s seemingly endless, sometimes annoying, stream of banter elicited a few genuine laughs, but some of the one-liners I couldn’t imagine any teenager finding funny, let alone understand (Nathan Lane? FICA? Seriously?).
The gender stereotyping in “Fired Up” is an unfortunate backward trip through time. Nick and Shawn are cartoonish and generally heartless, yet we are supposed to forgive them their lies and dishonesty, especially as a genuine love interest develops between Shawn and Carly, because, well, they are just “boys being boys.”
And the girls are either complete dimwits or cardboard cutouts of a male sexual fantasy. Carly is the one female character we are supposed to “respect,” even after we meet her dolt of a boyfriend that any self-respecting girl would avoid like the plague.
I don’t mind a good teen sex comedy if it has a heart, such as “Superbad” or “American Pie” (no sequels please), but “Fired Up” boasts a gaping hole in its chest cavity. Not that a teen film has to preach abstinence or safe sex, but couldn’t it at least present the matter as something more substantial than, say, a high-five? Still, the movie got its desired PG-13 rating by steering clear of blatant nudity, so the theater doors are wide open to teenagers far and wide.
Oh, how I long for the era of buttoned-up Molly Ringwald movies. I guess that makes me an official 30-something fuddy-duddy. A proud one.
- Rated PG-13
- Grade: D-
- Now Playing