Making the Grades
In his directorial debut, Will Gluck has done little to improve the image of cheerleaders or even teens in general. Casting 28-year-old Nicolas D’Agosto and 31-year-old Eric Christian Olsen as a pair of sex-crazed high school football players, he’s managed a script comprised of crass sexual humor, copious crude terms for body parts and derogatory jokes about sexual orientation. Rounded out with repeated, rousing cheers of “FU”, the movie also contains several scenes of sexual activity between heterosexual, same-sex and adult/teen couples.
In the story, quarterback Nick Brady (Olsen) and his teammate Shawn Colfax (D’Agosto) can hold their own on the gridiron but they have an even bigger reputation for holding off the field. So the thought of wasting two weeks of their lives in the sweltering heat at football camp with a bunch of guys doesn’t seem very inviting—especially since these players can hardly stop ogling the scantily-clad girls in the crowd long enough to finish a scrimmage.
Instead of signing up for spring training, Nick and Shawn come up with a better idea. Worming their way onto the high school cheer squad, they plan to spend three weeks canoodling (and more) with 300 new girls at the upcoming cheerleader competition.
Even though the squad’s captain, Carly (Sarah Roemer) is wise to the intentions of these two frauds, she can’t convince the school’s administrator (Edie McClurg) of the truth. Rather, Nick and Shawn find themselves on the bus, headed for their version of heaven on earth. And within minutes of their arrival, the two boys are already trying to hook up. Among many others, Nick has his eye on the head cheer counselor (Molly Sims) who happens to be married to the camp director (John Michael Higgins). But Shawn’s intentions change when he begins to have feelings for the understandably suspicious Carly.
Along with a string of sexually oriented comments, crude anecdotes, exposed buttocks and some other carefully covered anatomy, this film is packed with negative stereotypes of athletes, adolescents and coaches. Suggesting that youth only have unfettered sex and hard partying on their minds, the film barely acknowledges the physical abilities of these hardworking competitors. Depicting minors using alcohol and including some illegal drug references, the script will also leave viewers wondering how often you can use the derivative of a strong sexual expletive as a spirit builder and expect it to be funny.
Full of trite, oversimplified character depictions, the production sinks to the level of yet another “dumb” teen flick. And though it momentarily tries to redeem these two hormone-driven boys by having them show a spark of maturity, it will take more than that Hail Mary pass to save Fired Up! from the embers.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Fired Up!.
What beliefs about cheerleaders does this movie promote? What other “typical” teen characters are depicted in this film? How do these portrayals further negative stereotypes about teens?
What do these characters learn about honesty, maturity and competition? What benefits are there for being part of a team?