I had almost come to terms with the rampant misogyny in Fired Up!, given that it's a teen comedy too dumb to know better. But it was the rampant homophobia, tossed in everywhere it didn't belong, that convinced me Fired Up! is just a hateful mess. With its PG-13 rating it doesn't fulfill its own mandate of raunch comedy, and given that everyone in the movie is either obnoxious or bland beyond belief, its 90-minute running time feels far longer than you ever thought possible.
The two main characters present a kind of chicken and egg dilemma, as you wonder if Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D'Agnosto made their characters so irritating, or if the script never gave them much to work with in the first place. In their defense, Freedom Jones' screenplay seems to assume that the basic premise-- two horny dudes at cheerleading camp-- will write the jokes itself. But 29-year-old D'Agnosto and 31-year-old Olsen, playing the least convincing high school students since Jerri Blank, choose to mug and hog the camera, to the point that even the sound of their voices is unbearable.
Working on the assumption that girls are as stupid as cattle, the movie presents Sean (D'Agnosto) and Nick (Olsen) as two football-playing studs who have slept their way through their entire high school, and are looking for a new lady-killing challenge. Enter cheerleading camp, an opportunity to get out of football training and spend time with foxy cheerleaders like Carly (Sarah Roemer), the one girl who sees through their game but also the only one with any appeal for Sean. The boys arrive in this wonderland of girls in tight-tank tops doing high kicks, and proceed to sleep their way through camp, until Nick sets his sights on cheerleading coach Diora (Molly Sims) and Sean decides to win Carly away from her douchey college boyfriend Rick (David Walton). Yes, Carly is the "smart girl," but she's also so insecure that she stays with this tool, and later falls immediately into the arms of a guy she knows to be a complete cad.
The jokes are all over the place, from inspired silliness like mascots never removing their costumes to straight-up offensive jabs at Molly Sims' age (she is a whopping five years older than her supposed suitor Olsen). There's a mystifying scene in which the cheerleaders repeatedly chant "Fired Up! FU!" as if the very notion of the girls almost cursing is side-splitting. And despite the presence of talent like Philip Baker Hall and John Michael Higgins, none of the side characters ever have a shot at making an impact, reduced to one-joke caricatures or, in the case of the women, personality-free objects. Adhir Kalyan, who was genuinely funny in Paul Blart: Mall Cop, gives it a shot here too as a fiercely devoted male cheerleader, but even he is mowed over by the relentlessly unfunny main characters.
And as for the homophobia, it's not just the constant suggestion that all male cheerleaders must be gay, or that a gay admirer would actually give a guy his anal beads to show his love, or that any show of affection between two guys is, well, you know. It's the obvious discomfort the movie has with the close male friendship at its center, unable to acknowledge the homoeroticism (a la Superbad) or play it off with clever writing (there is none to be found in the entire movie). Nick and Sean are afraid to touch each other, or relate to each other on any true level, because dude, that would be so gay. As obnoxious as they can be, D'Agnosto and Olsen create a genuine friendship dynamic between them; it's too bad the movie is completely terrified of acknowledging that men can do anything together beyond drinking heavily and beating each other with sticks.
As much as I would have liked to, there's just no checking your qualms at the door and riding along with Fired Up!, as it manages to be unfunny and horrifying at nearly every turn. Girls sucked in by the cheerleading theme will probably be disappointed to learn that boys think they're this dumb, while guys looking for some raunchy laughs would find more original, fresh stuff in the first American Pie movie. In a season full of movies that go from bad to worst, let's just pray this is as awful as it gets.