Sugar & Spice
Reviewed by Tom Panarese
Rating: 4.5 Beans
little ditty ‘bout Jack and Diane ...
I'm ambivalent towards cheerleaders. I know they’re the girls you "love to hate" and all, but considering too many cheerleaders end up shells of their former selves, wasting away their adult lives clinging to their memories and hoping for the day when they can force their own daughters into cheerleading, I tend to cut them a little slack. After all, Heather McNamara was the likeable one, n'est-ce pas?
The same ambivalence I have towards cheerleaders translates to movies about cheerleaders and cheerleading, which makes it very hard to say anything good or bad about "Sugar and Spice." I mean, it’s not a good movie--in fact, it’s pretty much a complete misfire--but it has enough chuckles in it to make it more bearable than say, a Freddie Prinze, Jr. movie.
I should have you know that the movie is a satire, meant to be ironic in its display of cheerleaders as goddesses. Where it misfires is on two fronts. First, the movie was written before the massacre at Columbine high school and went into post-production shortly after so it's been edited down to be more palatable for a sensitive audience (you know, that whole media violence thing). Second, irony can't work when your viewers are a generation whose definition of irony has to do with a fly in your Franzia.
Anyway, Lisa (Marla Sokoloff), the B-squad cheerleader desperate to make the A-squad, narrates the movie, which starts off when the entire A-squad is posing for a lineup. They've just been arrested for knocking off a supermarket bank, but before we get to that, we have to know the reason why. You see, star quarterback Jack (James Marsden) and head cheerleader Diane (Marley Shelton) have fallen in love, and in the processes of not being able to keep their hands off one another, are pregnant. Their parents throw them out of the house, and they’re forced to get a rathole apartment and live just above the poverty level while still maintaining their star status at high school.
At first, things seem to be going okay--Diane gets a job at a supermarket bank and Jack finally finds a job at a video store--but they fall on hard times. Diane, desperate for some inspiration, watches "Point Break" and decides robbing a bank would be a great idea. She recruits the A-squad, and ... well, you know, the plot summary kind of writes itself.
In the end, what you have is like I said before, a bearable movie. There are some moments, such as when Jack buys Diane an engagement ring that is simply a setting with no diamond; the girls watch movies for inspiration and Hannah (Rachel Blanchard), who is only allowed to watch G-rated movies, studies "The Apple Dumpling Gang"; and Sean Young has a great role as Kansas's (Mena Suvari) jailbird mom, the source for the girls' inside knowledge on how to rob a bank.
But other than that, the jokes pretty much fall flat. Lisa's narration, especially her reiterating her desire to make the A-squad, gets tired, and I can't give too many props to a movie that uses "Jawbreaker" as a primary reference. Whatever the screenwriter and filmmaker's intentions were, they were never fully realized and all we've got here is a rental you end up with when "10 Things I Hate About You" is out and you can't bear to watch "She's All That" again.
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