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Film / Identity Theft of a Cheerleader

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When Vicky shouts "Go Cougars!", she certainly practices what she preaches.

Identity Theft of a Cheerleader is a 2019 Lifetime Movie of the Week Teen Drama Thriller from Johnson Production Group, written by Barbara Kymlicka and directed by Christie Will Wolf. It was part of the network's Cheer! Rally! Kill! event, with five original cheerleader-themed thrillers.

Vicky (Maiara Walsh) feels like a failure in life as she turns 30. She works a dead-end retail job, her boyfriend Darren (Matty Finochio) is a deadbeat compulsive gambler, and nothing she does is ever good enough for her bitchy mother Angie (Gail O'Grady). Laid off from her job, she first contemplates going to night school, but then she happens to find the old school ID card of Caitlyn, her high school-aged co-worker who dropped out of school, on the floor. Vicky's high school years were humiliating; she was an unpopular geek who dropped out after failing to make the cheer squad. Upon finding the card, Vicky concocts a scheme: she'll register for high school, pose as Caitlyn, become cheerleading captain (to show her mom she can achieve something) and generally have the perfect high school experience she was denied when she was younger. All goes well until her classmate Heather (Karis Cameron) starts suspecting that "Caitlyn" isn't who she claims to be.

See also Blood Sweat And Cheer, a Tubi original movie based in part on the same Real Life case that inspired this one, from one of Lifetime's other original movie providers (MarVista Entertainment).

Identity Theft of a Cheerleader contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Sort of an In-Universe case, as "Caitlyn", as impersonated by Vicky, is hotter than the more plain-looking real Caitlyn.
  • Adults Dressed as Children: As "Caitlyn", Vicky changes her hair style and starts wearing girlish skirts, jeans and crop tops.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders:
    • Vicky leverages her status as a hot cheerleader to pursue handsome jock Liam.
    • After chastising her for her crazy scheme and seemingly talking her out of it, Darren then suggests to Vicky that she put on her cheer uniform so they can do some kinky roleplaying.
  • Alpha Bitch: Maddy. She’s the Captain of the Cheerleading Squad and proud of it! While she’s not necessarily a cruel person, she does make some choices which could be seen as mean.
    • Kellie, the girl who was named Captain in the early 2000s when Vicky was a real teenager was a cruel bully who taunted Vicky when she failed to make the team. She even got physical with her methods of bullying, pushing Vicky over and causing her to hurt herself.
    • Vicky becomes this over time during her second experience in High School. As a teenager in the early 2000s, Vicky was an unpopular girl who was jealous of her peers. She was bullied endlessly by Kellie and her Girl Posse (all Cheerleaders) and had a rather obvious crush on a boy called Jason (implied to be The Big Man on Campus) which caused her even more humiliation. However, when Vicky replaces Maddy as Captain of the Cheerleading Squad during her second High School experience she becomes the most popular girl in school, catching the eye of Liam and causing her new best friend Heather to envy her.
  • Back to School: Almost a Deconstructed Trope, as Vicky's motivation for returning to school isn't for academic purposes, but to redo her place in the school social structure.
  • Black Comedy: A woman stealing a teen girl's identity, then injuring a rival to become head cheerleader, then seducing a teen boy, and ultimately committing a bludgeoning murder is treated in a breezy, ironic fashion, though the story takes a hard turn toward drama at the end.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Heather learns the truth about Vicky by doing Google searches and finding the real Caitlyn on Facebook...err, make that "Spyder Finder" searches and "Face Bubble".
    • Hilariously, the big box store Vicky works at is literally called Big Box Outlet Store.
  • Cute and Psycho: Vicky is good-looking and chipper, but gets more and more deranged as the movie goes on.
  • Embarrassment Plot: As a girl, Vicky failed to make the cheer squad and was taunted by the other girls over it, then taunted by her own mother as well. Her high school gambit is mostly to make amends for this.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Indeed, identity theft and a cheerleader are central to the plot. However, the real Caitlyn Sparks wasn't a cheerleader, and Vicky wasn't a cheerleader when she committed the identity theft, so the title isn't strictly accurate.
  • First Gray Hair: Just as her "Caitlyn" plot is succeeding, Vicky discovers this and freaks out.
  • Girl Posse: Heather, Maddy, Gemma and later Vicky.
    • Also the Cheerleaders from when Vicky was a real student.
  • High-School Rejects: The catalyst for the story, as Vicky's adult life is a mess and only gets worse.
  • High School Rocks: Vicky tries her hardest to make this a true case for her.
  • Humiliation Conga:
    • Vicky is basically a loser as an adult, has a jerk mom and a lousy boyfriend, then to top it all off loses her job. Her early efforts to fit in at school don't work either.
    • Heather had an injury in her junior year, her family was thrown into turmoil by her sister's alcoholism, then when "Caitlyn" shows up, Heather suffers losing her boyfriend to her, then gets set up by Vicky to appear to be an alcoholic herself, which gets her suspended from school.
  • Imagine Spot: At the climax, where we suddenly see how Vicky's triumphant moment is playing out in her head—she's achieved her dream, everyone in school adores her, she has the sole affection of the star jock, and her mom is there beaming with pride. In reality, she's about to get arrested.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Heather’s older sister, Lauren, was previously one. To the point she became a literal Alcoholic. Her parents eventually had to put her in a rehabilitation facility.
  • Lovable Jock: Liam is the star basketball player, handsome, and genuinely nice (if a bit dense). "Caitlyn" immediately sets her sights on him.
  • Make Way for the Princess: "Caitlyn" is at the center of a shot like this right before the climax as the cheerleaders head to the gym.
  • Meaningful Name: The story centers on a 30-year-old woman who poses as a high school student and seduces a classmate, all while being the cheer squad leader. The school's mascot? Cougars.
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: Liam happens to see Vicky's real driver's license and asks about it, but "Caitlyn" passes it off as a fake ID.
  • Mrs. Robinson: 30-year-old Vicky gets into a relationship with 18-year-old Liam, though he's not aware of the age gap.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Maiara Walsh spends most of the film in cheerleading clothes and other revealing outfits, including a sports bra and yoga pants in the scene where she first tries to entice Liam.
  • My Beloved Smother: Angie constantly intrudes into Vicky's life and always takes the opportunity to be critical of her.
  • Older Than They Look: The main reason Vicky's scheme works is that she has a petite build and is still fairly girlish-looking for 30.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Heather gives one to Vicky at the climax. She doesn't take it well.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Liam and Heather clearly love each other, but insist they're "just friends" and allow each other to date other people.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Two examples!
    • Darren decides to follow Vicky around and uncovers her secret high school life, then confronts her over it. She bludgeons him to death with a frying pan.
    • Upon learning that the real Caitlyn is planning to return to school, Vicky abducts and kills her.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Angie's philosophy of life is "second place is just the first loser", and she uses the line to taunt young Vicky when she doesn't make cheerleader in high school, which leads to Vicky's utterly bizarre scheme to get back into high school as an adult.
  • Senior Year Struggles: Liam is trying to get a college basketball scholarship, Heather is trying to recover after a bad junior year involving an injury and family drama with her sister becoming an alcoholic, and "Caitlyn" desperately wants to succeed in everything.
  • Single Girl Seeks Most Popular Guy: The case with "Caitlyn" pursuing Liam, except Vicky is in a relationship with Darren, but she eventually fixes that situation.
  • Twice-Told Tale: This is basically a Darker and Edgier Never Been Kissed.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Part of the plot was borrowed from the bizarre Real Life case of Wendy Brown, a 33-year-old woman in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin who made headlines in 2008 when she stole the identity of her teenage daughter (who'd gone to live out-of-state with Brown's parents) and enrolled in high school, which included trying out for the cheer squad. Her scheme was uncovered when she stopped going to class after the first week of school, then it was learned that she had a long history of identity theft and fraud.
  • Villain Ball: Vicky's whole scheme is devious and bizarre and ultimately destined to fail, but outside of some sociopathic Alpha Bitch antics she's not being evil, and she's very clever and savvy in the first half of the film. So, when she turns murderous in the second half, it feels forced, without a whole lot of justification.
  • Villain Protagonist: Vicky, and it's unusual by Lifetime standards since she's also basically the point-of-view character for most of the story.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Ultimately Vicky's motivation is to earn her mother's approval, though she picks a hell of a complicated way to do so.
    "My mother always said that I lack ambition. That was the old Vicky. I'm Caitlyn now. And Caitlyn makes Mommy proud."
  • Wild Teen Party: Vicky holds one at her mom's house when she goes out of town, and it's there that Heather finds an old photo of Vicky that helps unravel the mystery.