It’s been talked about a few times leading up to this post: that sort of essence of quality that I saw in my younger days. There was a reason I liked these movies at one point in time, if only for how easy it was to digest them. Generally, these re-watches have all been drastic positive-to-negative shifts, with my current self nowhere near as keen on the juvenile and occasionally offensive material these not-quite-current-age comedies provide. I expected much of the same with Fired Up!, and to my utter surprise, it wasn’t that terrible!
To bare all for one second, this is a pretty problematic picture. Bad enough that it’s essentially a thinly-veiled attempt at ogling women, it also hates the shit out of homosexuality. Goodness gracious, the amount of homophobic jokes present in this is truly breathtaking. Taking a present stand for traditional masculinity standards, a lot of it is aimed at the idea of two football stars wanting to seriously pursue cheerleading. Most male participants at the cheerleading camp, where this film’s setting makes its home for a majority of the story, are flamboyantly gay or presented in a very creepy, almost predator-y fashion… for laughs.
The biggest slap in the face is one very short sequence where the two leads interact with a specific male cheerleader. He makes it known to them that he wants to be the first member of his family to get a college scholarship through cheerleading. (This cheerleader is black, which may also be a reference to the race historically not being provided the same opportunities as their white counterpart, though this might’ve been a coincidence.) Earnest in his statement, the two simply look at him in a sort of “Yeah… okay… good luck with that” fashion, then move on to the next person within their bunk. This cheerleader is never shown again, never referenced again, and was basically part of a string of jokes about the two leads not connecting passion-wise to their roomies. The only “normal” male cheerleader of the bunch, who seemingly was not played up as an “over-the-top gay dude,” and he gets twenty seconds of screentime. Classy.
Okay, with that over: this had very few painful scenes to watch. Plenty of the re-watched films from before this had a whole collection of unwatchable scenes that made me question my commitment to this year’s stipulation. This, however, had writing just clever enough to keep things a little interesting. A hint of self-awareness, a dash of energy, and an adequate amount of two-faced charm. The leads, as shallow as they initially were, are painted as effective womanizers. Being physically attractive is one thing, but to have the “gift of the gab,” as someone once put it to me, puts things into a better foundation of credibility. Each lead did a fairly good job at being a smarmy asshole.
Another issue of all the loathsome films I’ve re-watched comes from a strangely inflated runtime. Up to this point, I kept commenting to myself, “Why are all of these snoozefests close to two hours long?” Fired Up! is different: 86 minutes without credits. A solidly quick film that does what it wants to do and leaves. Pacing is quick, jokes are rarely played on for too long, and the amount of filibuster is pretty praiseworthy. To those thinking, “You’re praising the film for being short with how bad it is?” Yes, I am doing just that. This, at the very least, makes it more tolerable and encourages it to get to the point.
A lot of this has been a comparison to my recent selection of re-watches, though. In terms of everything, Fired Up! is a pretty standard narrative of guys getting into a camp under false pretenses, slowly coming to discover they enjoy the camaraderie, and a redemption scene leading to a happy ending. What gives it life is the aforementioned writing which, while homophobic and generally still juvenile, makes for a pretty spirited collection of scenes and character quips. I actually came fairly close to… enjoying myself. Weird.
To those that this may apply to, the director of this film did Easy A a couple years later, so it’s kind of along those lines in terms of comedy. Not sure how much more of a comparison I can make, since it’s been close to eight years since I’ve seen it, but that might just be a re-watch further down the line.
So, of the “Best of the Worst” category, this is probably at the top. A moderately enjoyable raunchy school comedy that gets by on sassiness and energy. Characters have enough heart to them through their respective actors to make one believe their motivations, even at the expense of some running jokes gone awry. Never really all that funny to me, though I found many quotes cute enough to be swooned. Decent chemistry all around. This should’ve been made a decade later, though. Maybe then it wouldn’t be so disgustingly exclusive.
Final Score: 4/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.