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Film: Stick It

Stick It is the story of 17-year-old Haley Graham, a former world-level gymnast, who is thrust back into the world of gymnastics as a sentence from her run-in with the law for vandalism. She ends up at Vickerman Gymnastics Academy, where Coach Burt Vickerman persuades her to compete in an upcoming invitational, and to use the winnings to help pay off some of the property damage. Haley's presence is badly received by her fellow competitors, and so instead of practicing with the group, she practices on her own out in the old gym. Haley likes to perform wild and extreme tricks, not "cookie-cutter routines", but has a hard time controlling them, and sticking her landings. She ends up having to go to Vickerman for help.

At the invitational, Haley does fabulously, but is judged not by the difficulty of her tricks, or her technique, but on small, minor infractions. She even notes to the other VGA girls, "It doesn't matter how well you do. It's how well you follow their rules."

Haley and her teammates eventually make it to the National Championship. When one of the girls, Mina, is denied her rightful '10' for the reason of having a bra-strap showing (an ancient and rarely-invoked rule, only brought up because of Mina's teacher), the other girls band together in an attempt to fight the judging system. As a whole, they choose who has the best routine for an event, and allow that girl to do her full routine, while all others forfeit their chances, effectively choosing the winners and breaking the system.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • A-Cup Angst: Discussed by the gymnasts when they see "civilian" girls with boyfriends, and one blames their lack of romance on their lack of breasts.
  • Alpha Bitch: Joanne.
    • Tricia too.
  • Artistic License - Sports: Though the film is impressively researched, the filmmakers did ignore one critical fact at Nationals — to be in contention for a vault medal, a gymnast must perform two vaults from two different vault families. Mina only performs one. This omission is likely due to dramatic license — two vaults would only complicate the plot needlessly.
  • As Himself: Nastia Liukin had a small role two years before she won Olympic gold. Gymnastics fans will recognize Bart Conner, Tim Daggett, and Elfi Schlegel as commentators, and some of the gymnasts in the background as NCAA gymnasts.
  • Badass: All the girls get their chance to shine by the end of film, thus making them all badasses.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    Haley: What if I decide not to come back?
    Vickerman: I'll be honest: Nobody cares. Nobody cares what you do.
  • Cast the Expert: Quite aside from the NCAA and elite gymnasts filling in the supporting and extras ranks, Tricia Skilken was played by former senior elite gymnast Tarah Paige, and Mina Hoyt by Division I NCAA gymnast Maddy Curley.
  • Cool Big Sis: Haley eventually becomes this to the other gymnasts after they warm up to her.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: By the end of the film, Joanne stops being the Alpha Bitch and works with her teammates.
  • The Ditz: Joanne.
  • 8.8: invoked The scores given by the judges aren't taken well by the girls. Or the audience for that matter.
  • Fanservice: There is a segment that shows nothing but the female gymnasts applying a spray to their butts to keep the suits from riding up. Plot relevant? No. Fanservice? Uh, yeah.
  • Fun with Subtitles: Haley has some fun with 'Astrological Signs' in the beginning of the movie.
  • Greasy Spoon: Vickerman takes Haley to one when she tries to run away from VGA.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Joanne
    • Also Tricia, at the end of Nationals.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Poot and Frank. Lampshaded when one introduces the other as his "Hetero Life Mate".
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Gymnastics fans will recognize Nastia Liukin, the girl chosen to win the bars event, two years before she became a superstar at the 2008 Olympics, and keen viewers will also spot 2004 Olympic All-Around Champion Carly Patterson at the end of the film.
  • Imagine Spot: Before competing, Haley tells Mina and Wei Wei that when she's nervous, she always imagines the judges trying to do their routines. The result is ridiculously entertaining.
  • Inner Monologue: Haley, mostly about the gymnastic world.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: The title itself. It sounds like something sex-related until you find out what the movie's about, or even when you find out it's a movie.
  • Jerkass: Both of Haley's parents, Joanne's Mom, and Haley's former coach. And don't get us started on the judges at finals. Unbelievable.
    • Then there's that one girl that splashes a soda on Haley during the competition, ruining her outfit for no reason other than "That's for Worlds!" Girl, that probably wasn't even related to you!
    • Vickerman acted like one towards Haley in some cases, but usually just to prove a point.
    • Actually, Haley's dad isn't that much of a Jerkass. As her mom said, he called every elite gym in the country, and paid extra for her education, trying to get her back into a sport she once loved.
  • Malaproper: Joanne.
  • Mandatory Unretirement: Haley was forced back into Gymnastics after getting into her trouble with Vandalism, though Not everyone seems happy she is back. She shocked everyone after she scratched out of Worlds basically screwing her team and teammates like Tricia which she takes heat for when she comes back. See Retired Badass.
    • It's understandable that she quit after finding out her coach was having an affair with her mother. though she kept that to herself
  • Parental Substitute: The Coach. What else are they for? Teaching? Psht.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Haley's relationship with Frank and Poot. The simple fact that she doesn't have a love interest is actually one of the things people compliment this movie for.
  • Reality Subtext: Nastia Liukin was, in fact, the real-life U.S. Uneven Bars Champion in 2006 — for the second time in a row.
  • Retired Bad Ass: Burt and Haley.
  • Running Gag: "I got a feeling something bad's gonna happen..." (cue silent-but-deadly fart)
  • Serious Business: Walk out of a competition for no apparent reason? Prepare to be mocked, mistreated, and hated by every fellow gymnast you encounter!
    • Have a bra strap exposed while doing a move? You deserve to have points deducted!
  • Shout-Out: Haley lives with her dad in Plano, Texas, which may be a subtle shout-out to the fact that Nastia Liukin lives in the same area. It may also be a shout-out to the fact that the women's national training center, the Karolyi Ranch, is in Texasnote , or the fact that Texas is currently home to two international quality gyms — WOGAnote  and Texas Dreams.
  • Shown Their Work: When Haley lists off the named skills (aka "insanely high mountains") she is training - Geinger, Rulfova, Chusovitina, Shaposhnikova - the skills she is shown performing correspond exactly with the name of the gymnast who first performed them. For instance, when the narration says 'Chusovitina', Haley is seen doing a full-twisting double backflip dismount from the uneven bars, a skill which Oksana Chusovitina had named after her.note 
  • Spiritual Predecessor: To Make Itor Break It.
  • The Snark Knight: Haley, so much.
  • Talent Double: Of course. But the talent doubles are very, very good, and the additional competitors at both competitions were virtually all either NCAA or elite amateur gymnasts - including names like Nastia Liukin, Mohini Bhardwaj, and Allana Slater. Tarah Paige (Tricia Skilken), a former senior elite gymnast, did her own stunts, as did Liukin.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Tricia Skilken (technician) versus Haley Graham (performer). Subverted in the fact that Haley does have the skills to match Tricia, and even top her; she's just erratic, in that sometimes she nails it and sometimes she "can't control [her] tricks."
  • Teen Genius: Only briefly stated, but apparently Haley got her GED when she was 15.
  • Those Two Guys: Frank and Poot.
  • Training Montage: Haley's narration of her training to get back in shape makes it one of the most hilarious versions of the trope to date.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Haley, most definitely.
  • Truth in Television: Sadly, many of the complaints made about the current gymnastics judging system are all too based in reality, although this was exaggerated for the film.

SwimfanSports StoriesAir Bud
Stay AliveFilms of 2005 - 2009 Straight Story

alternative title(s): Stick It
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