Stick It has a tagline on the front of the DVD case: "It's not called gym-nice-tics". I don't know about you, but that blurb alone would compel me to set it back down in the rental rack and browse for something better, say something with flesh-eating zombies. I shouldn't judge a DVD by its case and Stick It turned out to be, well, fairly decent. Ex-gymnast and annoying teen rebel Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym), after getting in trouble with the law, is forced to either enroll in a gymnastics school (work with me here) or go to jail. Said school is run by gruff and opportunistic coach Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges) who is known more for his injured pupils than his gold medal winners. Haley has a bad reputation amongst the handspring crowd too, because she walked out of a competition some years before which lost her teammates a chance at a gold medal. Vickerman knows Haley has raw, powerful talent, and after putting up with her bad attitude he finally convinces her to either compete or pack for the slammer.
Stick It's plot is as contrived and tired as it sounds: a standard movie about a rebel with raw talent getting his or her act together to triumph. On the other hand, this movie caught my interest because it attempts to take us into the gymnastics subculture. I'm sure a true gymnast who does spend most of her waking hours training every day would scoff and point out what the movie got wrong, but for us laypeople, the movie has verisimilitude. It manages to capture some the sheer effort and pain these athletes go through to compete, and it highlights the strength and agility they need in order to perform their gravity-defying routines. This capture is accomplished by some fun, imaginative montages that are worth a second look. It's a shame they had to wrap this peek into the gymnast's world with a nonsense story. This movie didn't exactly break box-office records but someone cared enough about it to give it a DVD release with a big bag of extra goodies. Gobs of extras can be more of a curse than a blessing, sometimes - this film features two commentary tracks - one with director Jessica Bendinger and several of the actors (short version: "blah blah blah training blah blah *giggle* blah") and one with the director and film editor Troy Takaki which is the better of the two.
There's some filler of course - deleted scenes which were rightly removed, along with the dreaded blooper reel. The extras also contain a shout out to the real gymnasts who performed in the movie as well as some full-length routines performed by some. These extras are an appreciated addition as we get to see these jaw-dropping routines without slick editing augmentation.
In all fairness, the writer/director poured herself into the movie and her love of the sport of elite gymnastics shows throughout. I found it entertaining and the gymnastics fascinating, and Bendinger really did try to change things around to create a few surprises in the plot (whether she was successful or not is another story). Still I have a feeling any love you might feel for this movie will be based on how you feel about gymnastics so rent or buy at your own discretion. Just ignore the all-time champion most lame ever blurb on the cover.
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