Okay, maybe three out of five is a generous score for a crude teen sex comedy that thinks “F.U.” stands for funny – I should probably warn you it scores 3.1 out of ten on the aggregator site metacritic.com and 27 % on Rotten Tomatoes, so maybe my standards are way out of line.
Put it down to low expectations and the mild shock that Fired Up actually made me laugh. Several times, actually.
Here’s the pitch. High school jocks Shawn (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) are star players on the Gerald Ford football team. Even so, they only have one thing on their tiny minds, and it’s not football.
When they find out that cheerleader camp coincides with football camp, they have a Eureka! moment. Instead of running football drills with a bunch of sweaty adolescent blokes, they could be grappling with high-kicking chicks in short skirts. As the poster puts it: “2 Guys. 300 Girls. You Do the Math.”
If you’re not rolling your eyes right now you’re probably 15 and almost certainly male. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you don’t need me to tell you this is your kind of movie. If you happen to fall outside that specific demographic, well, there are a few reasons why it’s not a dead loss.
One: the guys’ fantasy of cheerleader camp is revealed to be just that. To their surprise, the girls aren’t jumping all over them (well, only in the course of their choreographed routines). The cheers require real work, and the teams take it seriously. Also, there’s a lot of inane call-and-response they have to put up with.
Two: the girls see right through their scheme, but could still use the extra muscle to lift them from their usual ignominious spot at the bottom of the tournament ratings.
Three: despite themselves, the boys wind up relating to their teammates as individuals, not just pieces of meat. Heck, they even learn the trick of chatting up girls by revealing their true feelings… Not something you could pick up from watching Porky’s. When they are coerced into returning to football camp and the company of men, they’re repelled by the immature horseplay and drunken debauchery they encounter.
Four: D’Agosto and Olsen are both more than ten years older than the teenagers they’re playing, but they have a lovely dry rapport – maybe the distance actually encourages a level of irony in their performances that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. I was reminded – not sure why exactly – of Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland in MASH. These two have a similar kind of smug wiseacre quality; not particularly likeable, but still funny.
Five: the excellent Sarah Roemer – from Disturbia – is every bit their match in the creative vernacular department. (Which is saying something.) Whoever wrote this script – it’s credited to the alias “Freedom Jones” – definitely has a way with words.
Six: John Michael Higgins – you will recognise him from Christopher Guest’s comedies – is on good form as the clueless cheerleader coach (“I said that was prohibidabo, how much clearer could I have been?”).
Okay, that’s about as many rationalizations as I can come up with. The truth is, the movie sets a low bar for itself and then vaults it with ease. I enjoyed watching it coast…
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