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DVD Review - Bring It On - All or Nothing

August 19th, 2006

Bring It On was a surprise hit when it debuted way back in 2000. It earned better than expected reviews and while its opening weekend was good, its real strength came from its legs. The film lasted in the top five for six weeks and went on to earn $68 million at the box office, all on a budget of just $10 million. Then in 2004 a direct-to-DVD sequel was released, and while it wasn't greeted warmly by critics, it did well for the type. Now, two years later, the latest, but not last, installment in the cheerleading saga hits the home market. Can the franchise bounce back, or is Bring It On: All or Nothing a case of declining returns.

Spoiler-Free Synopsis:

Hayden Panettiere stars as Britney. Britney has it all, she's valedictorian, the head cheerleader, she's dating the captain of the football team, and they've are a cinch for Prom King and Queens. But her life changes when her dad gets transferred to the other side of town and she ends up going to a new school and immediately alienates her new classmates. But cheerleading heals all wounds, and with a shot at winning an appearance in Rihanna's latest music video, the team has to pull together to win.

The next section contains spoilers, click here to skip to the Special Features section.

Movie Review

I will admit, the original Bring It On is a guilty please for me. While the film wasn't high art, it did have a great cast, wittier dialogue than one would expect given the target audience, not to mention several great cheerleading performances. Bring It On: All or Nothing is practically a remake, not a sequel and those who have seen the first two movies will see a lot in common, and not just the cheerleading competition. For instance, both films share similar plot points including the new girl aspect, the jerk boyfriend, etc. There were also structural similarities like the opening nightmare sequence and the dancing and outtakes during the end credits, and there were even some jokes that were recycled. The end result is a film that is easily comparable to its predecessor, but comes up short in nearly every aspect.

This starts right at the script, which is the key to any good movie and the most difficult aspect to perfect. A weak script will adversely affect every other aspect of the film, especially the acting. There was very little to work with here as most characters were one-dimensional and lacked any real motivations. Also, the characters in Bring It On spoke in a very stylized slang that was barely recognizable as English at times, but it was cleverly written and delivered in a way that made it sound witty. They obviously wanted this to continue in Bring It On: All or Nothing, but instead of adding a sense of style to the film, the characters just sounded dumb.

As I just mentioned, a weak script can lead to weak acting, and that was certainly the case here. Hayden Panettiere has been acting for more than half her life first coming to national prominence in Remember the Titans. However, while she was great in that, and in almost everything I've seen her in, this is not a performance she will want to use on her resume. Especially early on when she first arrived at her new school, it seemed like she was doing a bad Valley Girl imitation. Solange Knowles Smith, in only her second film role, was also stuck with a character that was stereotypical and ill-defined but she did the best she could do with the material she was given. Overall the cast did have the attitude and energy needed for the roles, but in the end they were saddled by a script that they just couldn't rise above.

On the other hand, there were several great, high-energy, highly athletic cheerleading performances, and along with the music, which is the real draw for the movie. That could be enough to recommend the movie to its target audience, but that greatly depends on your appreciation for cheerleading as a sport.

Special Features:

Gag Reel - 11:00
Your typical gag reel with plenty of actors blowing their lines or just plain goofing off. There were also more than a few cheer stunts gone wrong as well as Hayden Panettiere slips that needed the use of the black box to avoid an Unrated label. Overall it was funny but not that memorable.

Behind the Cheers - 8:00
Typical making of featurette comprised of a mix of talking heads, behind-the-scenes shots, and clips from the movie. It was just as fluffy as one would expect give the target audience but worth checking out, once.

Cheer Camp: From Wannabe to Cheerleader - 7:00
A more in-depth look at the preparation the actors went through to get ready for the cheerleading performances in the movie. It has the same mix of talking heads, etc. as the above featurette, but with a heavier focus on the behind-the-scenes. Likewise, it is worth checking out, but has limited replay value.

Break it Down - 19:00
Mini-cheer camp to help the view learn a few basic moves for two short routines. I've never had the desire to learn to be a cheerleader, and this featurette didn't change that.

From the Street to the Set - 5:30
At look at Krumping and how it was used as an influence for the Warriors cheerleading routines. As a brief look into the world of Krumping, its pretty good, but one was interesting in the dance movement more, one would be better served getting
Rize on DVD.


Bring It On: All or Nothing tried hard to capture the essence that made Bring It On such a good movie. Perhaps they tried a little too hard as any attempt at originality was apparently absent. It is almost like it was made by someone who watched the original film one too many times and said, "I can do that." But while they were able to identify and gather all the elements that made the original so much fun, when it came to assembling it, they lost the soul of the film.

Fans of the original will either find enough here to entertain them, or will be so overwhelmed by a sense of deja vu that they can never really get into the movie. The latter is more likely. On the other hand, if you are a member of the target audience, there are surely worse ways to waste an afternoon. But without serious replay value or enough in the way of extras, the DVD can't rise above a rental level. And even that might be generous.

One final note, Gary LeRoi Gray, who plays Tyson in Bring It On: All or Nothing also played Bobby the Annoying... I mean Inquisitive Boy in The Weird Al Show. I mention this because that will be the next DVD to be featured in a review on this site, hopefully by next weekend.

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