Bring It On
is a Troperiffic
film franchise, currently containing five installments. Only the first was released as a theatrical film, the other four were released Direct-to-Video
This franchise is mainly about one cheerleading squad squaring off
against another, both taking it way too seriously
Though it is a series, each sequel is more In Name Only
, rather than a real sequel. There are few recurring elements besides cheerleading competitions where hilarity usually ensues
throughout the attitude-filled drama. No two movies contain the same characters or locations.
A major theme in the series is ethnicity and race. The writers/producers view race as very important, whereas the characters are nonchalant about it (except maybe the villain used as an outlet for the writers to express latent racism).
More mildly the casting of cheerleaders as the heroes is itself oddly subversive (and refreshing) given the nearly universal negative depiction of cheerleading
in other High School
Movies. The films are not beyond a little ribbing at the sport but are clearly sympathetic.
Brief synopses for each movie in the series:
Bring It On (2000)
The upper-class Toros cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego has got spirit, spunk, sass, a token Asian
, and a killer routine that's sure to land them the national championship trophy for the sixth year in a row. But for newly-elected team captain Torrance, the Toros' road to total cheer glory takes a shady turn when she discovers that the Toros' former cheer captain had STOLEN the perfectly-choreographed routines from the ghetto-fabulous Clovers, a hip-hop squad from East Compton, who are black. While the Toros scramble to come up with a new routine, the Clovers, led by squad captain Isis, have their own problems - coming up with enough money to cover their travel expenses to the championships. With time running out and the pressure mounting, both captains drive their squads to the point of exhaustion: Torrance, hell-bent on saving the Toros' reputation, and Isis, more determined than ever to see that the Clovers finally get the recognition that they deserve! Who will survive and what will be left of them? This installment is commonly thought to be the best for its refusal to name one squad as evil, and for an ending that deliberately does not fit the time-worn mold for the genre. As a theatrical production, it also had a higher budget than the others. It's currently considered a bit of a teen girls' classic chick flick and is standard sleepover/girls' night fare. Starred Kirsten Dunst
, Eliza Dushku
, Gabrielle Union and an immediately pre-Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Jan: Hey, ladies, wanna see my spirit stick?
Bring It On Again (2004)
Torrance is played by another actress, so she changes her name to another town in SoCal called Whittier. Whittier tries out for and joins her new college cheerleading squad to relive her high school glory days as head cheerleader. But when she and her best friend Isis — I mean Monica — are unable to stand being around the tyrannical and snobbish squad captain who's known as The Bomb Diggity. Whittier and Monica quit and vow to form their own cheerleading squad made up of college campus misfits and social outcasts for a competition to see which squad will represent the college for the national cheerleader championship and become the new Bomb Diggity! Best known for being a blatant rip-off of the book Sweet Valley High #113: The Pom Pom Wars.
This is also notable as the only film of the series to star nobody anyone's actually heard of (with all due respect to Bethany Joy Galeotti
... and, y'know... Felicia Day...
Whittier: Don't be all up in my Kool-Aid!
Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006)
Britney Allen (Hayden Panettiere
, playing a cheerleader for the first but not the last
time) is living the white cheerleader's dream. At the elite (meaning that there is only one non-white student, and that student knows martial arts because she's Asian) seaside campus of Pacific Vista High School, Britney is captain of the cheerleading squad and the envy of everyone at school — especially one overly-ambitious teammate. When Britney hears about a forthcoming audition for a top cheer squad to appear in Rihanna
's upcoming television special, she is determined that her Pirates cheer squad will capture the coveted spot. But Britney's life turns from cheer-phoria to cheer-tastrophe when her father's job takes her family to Crenshaw Heights, a darkly ethnic working-class neighborhood east of Los Angeles. At her new school, Britney is viewed with suspicion by most of the dark-skinned students, especially by Camille, the overly confident and acerbic black leader of the ethnic Crenshaw Heights Warriors cheerleading squad. No one is more surprised than Camille, however, when "white girl" Britney proves herself and secures a spot on the ethnic Warriors' ethnic cheer squad. The two other non-black students being a heterosexual cheerleader Latino beefcake love interest, as well as a Latina who speaks half of her dialogue in Spanish. Britney and her new teammates work feverishly to prepare the audition for Rihanna, incorporating some edgy new moves into their performance. Now the pressure is on, as the Warriors find themselves locked in a high-stakes cheer-off with Pacific Vista, Britney's old school! During the no-holds-barred fight to the finish, friendships, loyalties and talents are tested — but only one team can come out on top! This installment is renowned for being the most similar to Mean Girls
. This entry is also notable for having two former Lizzie Spaulding
s in the cast (Hayden Panettiere and Marcy Rylan).
Jesse: Dude, I could kick the dude outta you!
Bring It On: In It to Win It (2007)
Southern California high school senior Mighty Whitey
Carson (Ashley Benson
) arrives at the all-important "Cheer Camp Nationals" determined to lead her multi-ethnic squad, the West High Sharks, to victory. But chic New Yorker Mighty Whitey
Brooke and her multi-ethnic team, the East High Jets, are equally steadfast in their pursuit of the competition's coveted "Spirit Stick". As tension mounts between the two rival squads, Carson falls for fellow vaguely-non-white, heterosexual cheerleader Penn, not realizing he's a Jet. When Brooke discovers the budding romance, she raises the stakes by challenging Carson to a one-on-one cheer-off. A spectacular, West Side Story
-type "cheer fighting" sequence turns uglier than expected and cheerleaders on both sides are wounded and unable to compete! Basically, Romeo and Juliet
with cheercrips and cheerbloods! This installment is known for incorporating more portmanteau cheerwords than any of the previous Bring It On
movies (and that includes Not Another Teen Movie
Sarah: This is a cheer-saster!
Ruben: A cheer-tastrophe!
Chelsea: A total cheer-clipse of the sun!
Sarah: Not bad.
Ruben: Good one.
Bring It On: Fight to the Finish (2009)
Same-old, same-old, except for once the primary character isn't white. Singer/actress Christina Milian stars as sassy Cuban-American cheer captain Lina Cruz, whose world is turned upside-down when her family moves from the urban streets of East Los Angeles to the sunny suburban beach town of Malibu. At her new school, Latina Lina clashes with bitchy Avery, the ultra-competitive all-star cheer captain. And though Avery may appear Latina due to her deep tan and dark brunette hair, she is in fact racist against Lina, but not as much as Avery's black best friend, Kayla, who can't open her mouth without pooping out racial slurs. Avery takes a special dislikin' to Lina for being a potentially dethroning cheerleader as well as race-mixing with Avery's super-cute brother Evan, who has an affinity for quirky hats
. Lina's always been able to rise to the challenge, but can she create an all-star squad, beat Avery at the Spirit Championships and still keep her romance with Evan? This is notable as the only film in the series other than the original to have a soundtrack album released (and the only one to have any instrumental score cues included)... well, that's something
Avery: They're illegal cheer-migrants.
"Bring the Tropes":
- Aerith and Bob: The Shipman siblings from the first movie are named Justin and Torrance.
- An Aesop: The first movie, in particular, "It doesn't matter if you win or lose, but how you play the game."
- Also, from the first movie: Invent your own routines instead of stealing others'.
- All-Cheering All the Time: A deleted scene from the original movie showed one character revising for the SATs by converting the answers into cheers to make them easier for her to memorise.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Most notably Cliff from the first movie, but a lot of men across the franchise. This is the reasoning behind the bikini car wash as a fundraising effort in the first movie.
- Alpha Bitch: There's one or two on every cheer team.
- Amazon Brigade: Some of the cheerleading teams.
- Angry Dance: Angry cheering, but same principle: the showdown at the football game in the first movie.
- Angst: Torrance, about the stolen cheer routines, in the first movie and Whittier, about the politics of the cheer squad, in the second.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Torrance's little brother.
- Buffy Speak: Literally in the case of the first movie (with Eliza Dushku, yet).
- California University: The second movie.
- Call Back: In the third movie, Britney's cheerleading squad briefly sings "Hey, Britney" to the tune of the "Mickey" song everyone danced to at the end of the first movie.
- The Cameo: Rihanna in the third movie, and Ashley Tisdale singing "He Said, She Said" on screen in the end credits for the fourth movie (which has her sister Jennifer in the cast). Toni Basil (the original singer of "Mickey") is one of the judges at the finals in the first movie.
- Camp: Some of the situations.
- Camp Gay: Les from the first movie.
- Captain Ethnic: Some of the cheer captains.
- Catfight: Happens in every movie.
- Heel-Face Turn: In All or Nothing.
- High School: In every movie but the second one.
- Hopeless Auditionees: The first movie's audition sequence.
- Informed Ability: Sparky's routine in the first movie which consisted of little more than air-humping and spirit fingers (alongside a few lifts that the cheerleaders should have been able to do already.) Considering he's a con-artist, that might have been the point, but it doesn't explain how he got his reputation as a great choreographer or how he was popular enough to pawn the same crappy routine all up and down the California coast.
- In with the In Crowd: The third movie.
- Incoming Ham: Sparky Polastri's introduction.
- Jiggle Show: Every movie features lots of this.
- Jive Turkey: The black cheerleaders in part 3.
- Lean and Mean: the teams after training.
- Lucky Translation: In the first movie, Torrance says "You know, mothers have killed to get their daughters on squads", to which Mrs Shipman replies with "That mother didn't kill anybody. She hired a hit man." The Japanese language allowed for a pun that expressed Mrs Shipman's attitude much more clearly and succinctly:
Torrance: Aren't you jiman (proud) [to have a cheerleader for a daughter]?
Mrs Shipman: I'm not jiman, I'm gaman (enduring it).
- Makeover Montage: Missy in the first film, the new squad in the second.
- Market-Based Title: In France they're the American Girls movies, and in Germany it's the Girls United series.
- Show Some Leg: Cheerleader outfits are very leggy by default, but most of the girls in the movies are also found of short shorts and miniskirts anyways.
- Shout-Out: Missy is sporting Faith's tattoo, which she promptly rubs off when told ink is strictly forbidden.
- Slapstick: Many of the falls.
- The Spartan Way: Many of the training sequences.
- Spell My Name with an "S": According to the end credits of Bring It On: All Or Nothing, Hayden Panetierre plays Britney.
- Training from Hell: In the leadup to Nationals in the first movie, Torrance requires that her squad practices constantly.
- Valley Girl: Exemplified by the cheer that Torrance encourages Missy to perform: "Awesome, oh wow, like totally freak me out, I mean, right on! The Toros sure are number one!" And immediately snarked right back by Missy in the same sing-songy voice that Torrance gave her: "I transferred from Los Angeles! Your school has no gymnastics team! This is a last resort!"
- Villain with Good Publicity: The Bomb Diggity from part 2.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In the first movie, at the Cheerleading Competition, a nervous cheerleader vomits all over her own coach. The Director's Commentary explains that at Cheerleading Competitions, you will cheerleaders vomiting because they are so nervous.
- Whole Plot Reference: The fourth movie is West Side Story with cheerleading squads instead of gangs.
- Who Wears Short Shorts?: Nearly all of the female cheerleaders at one point or another. Especially in the third installment.
- You Are a Credit to Your Race: Some of the more racist compliments delivered throughout the series.