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MOVIE REVIEW

Fired Up!

Cheerleading farce falls flat

Sitting (from left): Danneel Harris, Nicholas D'Agosto, and Eric Christian Olsen in ''Fired Up!'' Sitting (from left): Danneel Harris, Nicholas D'Agosto, and Eric Christian Olsen in ''Fired Up!'' (Suzanne tenner)
By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / February 20, 2009
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It's worth noting that the movie about two dudes who ditch football camp to crash an Illinois camp for competitive cheerleading knows it's dumb. It just doesn't know how dumb it wants to be.

An incomplete sendup of sports movies, a half-hearted spoof of teen hormones, a straight (though not thoroughly heterosexual) romantic comedy, "Fired Up!" sends Shawn and Nick to ogle and seduce as many nubile tumblers as they can handle (everybody talks nasty, but no nasty ever gets done).

The jokes aren't all terrible. They build over the basic premise like mildew; after a while only a good bathroom cleaner can cut through all the bad gags. The dialogue feels piped in from a Twitter proverb feed ("To win the biscuit you have to risk it") and the succession of broad, slack scenes suggests yet another movie made of bloopers and outtakes. Anyone who's seen a good cheer routine should wonder how these teams would ever make it to nationals. "Fired Up" feels like everybody's first time doing anything - writing, acting, directing, cheerleading.

A sports farce like "Caddy-shack" - eons ago, I know, but what's there been since? "Caddyshack 2"? - knew what it found funny about golf and country clubs. What's "Fired Up!" laughing at? It's actually not cheerleading. Sexuality is the target for most of the gags. But those never come into any comedic focus. Gay panic, for instance, always appears on the verge of breaking out. (Men hit on Shawn about three times.) But the movie doesn't have the fortitude to flip this tired plot over. What didn't work in the cheerleading comedy "Bring It On" (low-key social commentary) or the gymnastics melodramedy "Stick It" (emotional sincerity), doesn't work here, either.

Truly entertaining vulgarity never happens. The movie has no comic or hormonal sensibility of its own - every feeling in "Fired Up!" feels borrowed from another comedy, television show, or pop song. At best, it's a movie with the generic arc and canned personalities of MTV's self-help reality ("I Want to Be a Cheerleader"). What it needs is a devilish director - a recent graduate from the John Waters Outlandishness Academy. Or it needs the devil himself to put some camp in this camp. Sign me up for "Friday the 13th: Jason Joins the Spirit Squad."

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to www.boston.com/movienation.

FIRED UP!

Directed by: Will Gluck

Written by: Freedom Jones

Starring: Eric Christian Olsen, Nicholas D'Agosto, Sarah Roemer, Molly Sims, and John Michael Higgins

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 90 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (crude and sexual content throughout, partial nudity, language and some teen partying)

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