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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Stick It
Directed by Jessica Bendinger
Buena Vista Home Entertainment 04/06 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG-13 - some crude remarks

Seventeen-year old Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is a tough cookie. In the opening scene of this unusual sports movie, she is doing a dirt-bike trick that leaves the mouths of her two male pals wide open in wonderment. Unfortunately she smashes through the window of a house and lands in juvenile court. Her single dad, who's had it with her rebellious spirit, arranges with the court for her to be sent to Vickerman Gymnastics Academy where she can either shape up or ship out to prison. Haley was once a shining star in the world of gymnastics but she walked out of the competition at the World Championships. Since then, she has steered clear of the sport and looks down on what she regards as cookie-cutter routines and unfair judging standards.

The elite Academy is run by coach Burt Vickerman who immediately realizes that Haley will be a tough nut to crack. Since she does not interact well with the other gymnasts in his program, he lets her train on her own. "Don't hurt yourself. And don't get blood on the equipment," he tells her. Haley is such a strong personality that she immediately begins to have an impact two younger girls, Wei Wei Yong (Nikki Soohoo) and Mina Hoyt (Maddy Curley). Her main competition comes from Joanne Charis (Vanessa Lengies) who remembers her from before when they trained together. She plays by the rules and has nothing but scorn for Haley's showboat tactics.

Stick It is written and directed by Jessica Bendinger who penned the screenplay for Bring It On, which explored the world of cheerleading. She participated in competitive gymnastics from the time she was nine until she turned twelve. Bendinger appreciates the discipline, stamina, grace, and strength that is essential to the sport. She conveys these aspects of the sport through some stunningly choreographed composite sequences of overlapping routines. You've never seen gymnastics like this!

But the movie is mostly about the relationship that develops between Haley and coach Vickerman as they struggle with her wildness and his play-it-safe philosophy. Jeff Bridges, as usual, brings an idiosyncratic flair to this interesting character. Missy Peregry, who looks a lot like Hilary Swank, puts in a stellar performance as Haley, the out-of-the-box gymnast and rebel par excellence.


Special DVD features include: Buttaharas: outrageous bloopers and outtakes; Skinny Fat: hilarious deleted scenes; Missy Elliott music video: "We Run This"; Jeannie Ortega featuring Papoose Music video: "Crowded"; Hard Corps: the real gymnasts who were stunt doubles for Stick It; The Elites: full gymnastics routines performed by some of the world's best; The Judges' Table: uneven bar routines in slow motion; and Read My Mind: multiple feature commentaries by director Jessica Bendinger and actors and by director Bendinger and filmmakers.

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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