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Stick It
Rating: *** (out of 5)

Director: Jessica Bendinger
Jeff Bridges .... Burt Vickerman
Missy Peregrym .... Haley Graham
Vanessa Lengies .... Joanne Charis

Synopsis from Yahoo Movies:
A 17 year-old, ex-gymnastics star with big family problems finds herself on the wrong side of the law after one-too many arrests. Forced back into the regimented world of gymnastics to clean up her act, she rediscovers her love of the sport and gets the chance to make peace with her dysfunctional life. Empowered by her transformation, she rallies fellow gymnasts to protest and outsmart outdated scoring methods at the National Championships.
The Nutshell

A good "Bend It Like Beckham"-esque bit of sportsgirl fluff that quivers on the verge of finding heart but ends up slightly more on the silly and sappy side. A girl can be a bad@ss, and manage to be both without any tears involved. However, this piece had to make it out like the heroine became a testosterone driven creature out of social suffering and misparenting, versus just having always craved to do things her way and having a vision that is true to herself and her personality. Because of this, it leans toward a 2.75 but because the lead plays her character spot on, and it is fluff, I allow it to be a 3. I got what I wanted out of it.

The Review

Notice something funny about the image below? The lead's name isn't on it ...

Anyhoo, Jeff Bridges is notable, charming, and earns his paycheck (making the movie, anyway, but his character is a little bit of a lying moneygrubber). The real star is the sportsmanship in the film, which showcases bike tricks on ramps, petty vandalism, all forms of gymnastics, and olympic-level gossip-fights.

Next to that all stands Missy, playing Haley, a militant teen who is clearly an adult versus all the other short folk she plays along with on the screen. Add to that that she was once supposed to have been a gymnast and you find it a little hard to believe that she's managed to have a huge growth spurt that includes breasts and long limbs, but whatever, she manages to do all the stuff she has to do athletically and is impressive while also managing to act. I'm not going to say she's a Hilary Swank cuz, come on, this is a teen flick.

It was fun to watch her bad mouth the prissy princesses which I would have loved to do in elementary and high school but instead I just outranked them with my GPA and graduated college early. Anyhoo, she is flippant, irreverent, difficult, hotheaded, stubborn, yada yada - oh, how SO like a boy (cuz you know, only boys are that way). She has apparently had multiple run ins with the law and you think she's a bad@ss until you realize her parents are rich and instead of sending her to juvy (where she wants to go) she's going to ... I forget the acronym, but some olympic training ground for hopeful gymnasts with rich parents.

Herein lies the core problem I had with the flick. There's the requisite "no one understands me so I'll just be awful" plotline, then "i have discovered a coach who understands and believes in me" plotline, then "despite my parents and all the b|tchy little girls who rag on me all the time for who and what i am I shall prove myself to the world as skilled in this sport in the way I want to show it." Which is all fine. But they don't really deal with the parents and they don't really deal with this girl's true issues. And in the end you don't really get to see her prove anything cuz it turns into a "gymnasts fighting the stupidity of the sport and its antiquated rules" plot.

Basically Haley's parents are divorced, her stage mom mother uses her for her own egotistical glory, her father apparently used to be wonderful and now just can't stand her or deal with her, and now she just breaks the law cuz it's the only thing she knows how to do to "get away." Then later you discover there are some underlying issues, and by the time it all wraps you up you're not really sure why they were introduced because they certainly weren't addressed. Instead we get gymnasts in leotards tossing drinks on each other, sniping under their breath, doing hiphop on the balance beam to spite the championship judges, and girls throwing out the rocker sign as if they really know what they're doing.

But, it's all fun and games. I think that was the problem, the arena for the fun and games was built on a girl's troubles, and the troubles themselves are entirely glossed over. So I had the fun but sorta felt annoyed, like, you could have at least resolved that or never introduced it at all. What about her dad? How's that gonna work out? What about her mom? If she's such a defiant, truthful little brat who talks back in the face of authority, why isn't she telling her mother off and stating her case? Just a bit messy.

But, like I said, some fun. I like sports flicks that really create the excitement of a competition and the drive and adrenaline of feats of skill and strength. Ironic, because I can't stand watching that stuff for real, but in a movie it's sooo much more interesting. Eheheh. So, yes, you get to watch people flipping around in the air and landing floor programs, vaulting around, etc.

Cute, fun, fell seriously short on issues it raised on its own (which is dumb, in my book). If you want to feel a little rush and cheer on a female kicking butt in a sport (note, however, that it's not a male sport), you can enjoy Missy doing a wonderful job of creating that energy and drive for you to live through. She's very human about it, too.

In real life our lead actress, Missy, is a sports junkie (see IMDB bio) and beyond her broad shoulders and wide slung jaw, she's believable as a sportsman (perhaps not a gymnast, but she holds her own). All they needed was an athletic babe who gets off on sports violence and just rolling with it, as seen during the ice bath below: