What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the film includes some mild language, including adolescent girls talking back to adults (coaches and parents), as well as mouthing off to one another ("crap," piss," bitch," s-word, for examples). Movie opens with a girl on a bike crashing through a house window, which leads to her arrest (sirens, handcuffs). The film explores some mature themes in mostly satirical manner: lying, cheating, career-ending injury, jealousy, holding grudges, divorce, and rebellious teens. The movie features several close-up shots of gymnasts' bottoms, some scenes where gymnasts are injured (for example, a girl falls off a beam, writhes in pain, and the coach disdains her, creating a "comic" moment). Characters discuss a painful moment from the past when a girl learned her mother was sleeping with her coach, divorced parents fight. Adults at a party appear drunk.
What's the story?
STICK IT follows Haley (Missy Peregrym), introduced as she crashes her bike through a house window, whereupon she's arrested. Haley's parents' divorce has been difficult, and she's doing her best to forget her own past in elite gymnastics. The onetime floor exercise star earned the enmity of her fellow competitors and coaches when she walked away from "the Worlds" two years earlier, and now, just when she thought she was out... they pull her back in! As punishment, Haley is sentenced to train with a disgraced coach, Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges). Eventually, student and coach learn to appreciate one another's stubbornness, while bringing out each other's morality and compassion. While it's a good thing that Haley is now free of her at-wits-end dad, she now must decide whether to participate in a sport she sees as corrupt (full of petty tensions among competitors and archaic regulations prohibiting creativity). She does, of course, but along the way helps some of her teammates.
Is it any good?
Not so sharp or witty as it needs to be, Stick It features appealing performers and a too-little-too-late rousing finale. Revisiting themes better served by Bring It On, the film sets up a familiar tension between rebellion (via Haley) and conformity (the old-school, restrictive gymnastics establishment).
Haley's journey is hampered by awkward plotting, unnecessary characters, and some inexplicable editing. That said, the girls' flips and vaults are often dazzling, as are the film's superbright look and a couple of overlap-editing sequences, showing the routine of training as well as the hard work involved. But Jessica Bendinger's movie takes too long to get to the showdown/point and makes poor use of the ever-cool Bridges.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about "teenage rebellion": How can this typical situation be a healthy experience, offering opportunities for kids and adults to learn from each other? How does Haley's anger at her parents initially block her ability to work with her teammates and coach? How might gymnastics, which involves judges' subjective assessments, be changed to make it fairer for competitors?