Fired Up! loves the players and the game
By Jared Peterson
Shawn and Nick are high school football stars and legendary Lotharios, and by the end of their junior years they have successfully summited their sexual peaks and are bored with the view. Having thoroughly explored the student body, and faced with the prospect of a chastely sweaty summer at football camp in Texas, they contrive to join the cheerleading squad in order to attend their training camp, an enticing barrel with an array of fresh fish.
At camp, the boys marvel at this “hot chick produce aisle” and make quick work of the choicest picks. Enjoying a challenge, Shawn pursues Carly (Sarah Roemer), the cheer captain from back home, who’s too smart and too centered to fall over backwards. Nick sets sights on the camp’s trainer Diora (Molly Simms), who is married and, at thirty-four, like totally ancient. Soon, Shawn begins to fall for Carly, a breach of one or another statute of the bro code. Nick tries to get his buddy back on task, but eventually joins the fray, and the two set about prying Carly from her tool of a boyfriend. Along the way, the guys become pretty decent cheerleaders, and staying at camp becomes a matter of pride. Predictably, it ends when they get the girls.
As teen sex comedies go, Fired Up! operates with toothless efficiency. The setup takes no time at all, and the boys’ conquests are blessedly telescoped with several music montages. The movie would have clocked in at under an hour if it weren’t for the copious rapid-fire patter of its two expert players. Neither one is ever at a loss for words, long strings of which are delivered with the two standing side-by-side, trading off tag-team style. As Shawn and Nick respectively, Nicholas D’Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen are moderately charming, and they nail (if you’ll pardon the phrase) some good lines and carry some lame ones. The screenplay by Freedom Jones is filled to bursting with wry smarm and adolescent bravado, similar in tone (if not brilliance) to smart-alecks from the era of Animal House and Fletch. Allusions both anachronistic—references to “Fraggle Rock” and long-dead nineties pop—and precocious—a nod to Thomas Friedman’s economics book The World is Flat and more than one joke about managed heath care—suggest the early stages of acute Juno-itis.
No violence here, though bodily harm comes to a couple of cheerleaders who take nasty falls onto padded ground. Oh, and one dude’s arm catches on fire at a party—it ruins his letter jacket and nothing else. The humor here is almost entirely sexual, and the film mostly steers clear of the bathroom and gross-out stuff. There is teenaged drinking and one reference to marijuana. The dialogue amounts to a hefty thesaurus of casual swearing and euphemism for sex and its component parts. Our two players are smooth but hardly subtle, and even girls who know the score are pliant and easily bedded (though I never saw an actual bed). The acts are never shown, but we’re meant to infer dozens of them in the course of the three-week camp (straining the limits of the physiologically plausible). It’s worth noting that two of the relationships in the film—between Carly and her college boyfriend, and Nick and Diora, constitute statutory rape.
The movie seems to find homosexuality—or, more accurately, gayness—absolutely hilarious. A flamboyant character played by Paul Blart’s Adhir Kalyan (developing a lucrative sideline in social stereotypes) swishes through several scenes, one of which has him exposing his nude rear end and performing off-camera acrobatics with his lower self. Other openly or surreptitiously gay characters are called in to give the straights something to roll their eyes about. The gags are never mean-spirited, just tired and stale—the soft homophobia of low-brow expectations.
Judging from this film, cheer camp is where healthy body image goes to die. Our first glimpse of cheerleader heaven takes the form of a veritable three-ring circus of limber ladies in skin-tight workout attire stretching in the sun; every one thin, tan and toned in a way only achievable when you don’t have homework to do. The most modest outfits are the cheering uniforms; there are bikinis and lingerie galore. Female nudity is narrowly avoided; one young lady signals her interest in Nick by swimming up to him in a lake and removing her skivvies just under the water line. The outtakes and addendums scattered through the closing credits also contain some raunchy situations and bleeped epithets.
At a February 22nd screening, the following previews were shown: Adventureland (R), which is essentially Superbad in the ‘80s—we get a reference to “number 2” and an implied but unseen erection; Observe and Report (R), which is essentially Paul Blart: Mall Cop—some conspicuous cleavage and several slapstick smackdowns; The Haunting in Connecticut (PG-13), which is essentially a dozen horror movies from last year alone—unearthly faces, the wielding of an axe, and words carved head to toe in a man’s skin; Echelon Conspiracy (PG-13), which is essentially Eagle Eye—lots of guns firing and things crashing; and Obsessed (PG-13), which is essentially Fatal Attraction—some bare skin and a pretty intense girl fight.