Sugar & Spice

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“Bring it On crashes head-first into Set It Off.”

“Get ready to cheer for the bad girls,” goes the tag-line, and despite an exterior fluffier than candy-floss, the message here is actually extremely subversive: crime does pay. This sets it apart from most other crime-chick flicks, which almost inevitably end in death, destruction and more conventional morality. Guess being a comedy allows you a certain latitude in such things. Head cheerleader Diane (Shelton) gets pregnant courtesy of jock Jack (Marsden); finding it impossible to make ends meet, she takes inspiration from Point Break and convinces her friends to rob the bank where she works. But they’re witnessed by Lisa, a girl on the B-squad…

Written, produced and directed by women, this fully hits its stride only after the robbery. There’s one shot of the team walking down a school corridor in slo-mo, while their fellow pupils, fully aware of their exploits, scurry to get out of the way. Backed by Juno Reactor’s entirely appropriate Pistolero, it’s fabulous, and you wish they’d developed the post-crime scenario further, not least because the ending is extremely limp. Before the raid, it’s a hit-and-miss satire with some excellent jabs, but too much shallow emoting and hugging. Though award bonus points for casting Sean Young as a jailed mother, and the character quirks keep it from becoming too dull.

Certainly not the best high-school studio satire ever (Heathers or Election), it’s likely the only one post-Columbine to feature semi-automatics, albeit in watered-down fashion. According to Mena Suvari, “It was really frustrating, because the movie we all signed on to do was very dark and very offensive, and while the finished movie is still that to a degree, it’s completely different.” One can only imagine what the original would have been like.

Dir: Francine McDougall
Star: Marley Shelton, Mena Suvari, James Marsden, Rachel Blanchard

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