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A 2006 teen sports dramedy written and directed by Jessica Bendinger (Bring It On), starring Jeff Bridges and Missy Peregrym.

Stick It is the story of 17-year-old Haley Graham (Peregrym), 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 (Bridges) 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 (Maddy Curley), 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 coach), 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.
  • Accentuate the Negative: What the girls feel the judges are doing.
    Haley: It doesn't matter how hard we run, or how high we flip. Leave your hands on the vault table too long? Deduction. If you use one arm instead of two, big deduction. And if your feet clip the vault before they hit the floor... You're done. So you say you want lyrics in your floor music? Huge deduction. Music finishes, but you don't? Two tenths deduction. It doesn't matter how well you do.
  • 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.
    • The format of Nationals in the film is that the first day is the All-Around and the qualifier for event finals, and the second day is event finals. However, while some countries do conduct their national championships this way, the format of USA Nationals is that all gymnasts get a chance to compete all events both days, and then the combined scores from both days are used to determine all-around and event rankings. The USA has used this two-day cumulative score format at least as far back as the late 1980s, so it's not just a matter of the film being a little behind the times either. Like the previous entry, this is likely because that format — which would mean a lot more gymnasts on the floor and multiple competitors performing at once — would make the rebellion next to impossible to pull off (if nothing else, there would have been other routines happening at the same time as Mina's vault, which would mean at least one score per event on the board before Haley scratches on vault to start things off).
    • Wei Wei plays "Come Baby Come" by K7 while performing her beam routine. This is doubly inaccurate for two reasons: one, gymnasts don't have music while performing on the balance beam, only on the floor routine. Secondly, the music that gymnasts choose to perform to is not allowed to have words - only instrumentals are allowed.
      • This could double as a moment of Screw the Rules, They Broke Them First! for Wei Wei, knowing and not caring her routine music couldn’t allow for lyrics due to the rules, as it is alluded to by Haley earlier on during her voice-over narration. Wei Wei just wanted to use the music she liked, and if everyone else was damning the rules, then why not her?
      • The music was pretty clearly not an official part of the competition; Wei Wei rigged her personal music player to start playing it during her routine (as opposed to floor music which is given to the judges on a CD and they cue it up before the routine). It's not an authorized use of music, and in reality, doing this would probably result in some major deductions if not outright disqualification, but Wei Wei probably figured she wasn't going to beat Tricia in the eyes of the judges anyway, so she might as well just go up and make it as awesome as possible.
    • The music is playing in her head since the iPod was left on the bench with the headphones still plugged in.
  • 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.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: The film builds up the rivalry between Haley and Tricia, but at nationals Tricia is superseded by the judges themselves, who use antiquated rules to punish gymnasts and coaches they dislike. Tricia even joins Haley's rebellion.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Poot asks about Haley's well being throughout the movie.
  • Biker Babe: Haley is introduced riding her motorcycle through a residential construction site.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    Haley: What if I decide not to come back?
    Vickerman: I'll be honest: Nobody cares. Nobody cares what you do.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Two examples.
    • Wei Wei is reprimanded since her dancing doesn't fit traditional gymnastics style, but she uses them in a nontraditional routine at nationals to win the crowd.
    • Haley uses the Buttahara to protest Vickerman's training and again at nationals to protest the hidebound judges.
  • Cool Big Sis: Haley eventually becomes this to the other gymnasts after they warm up to her.
  • Cool Old Lady: The court judge who is in charge of Haley's case.
  • Color-Coded Characters: All the gymnasts wear different-colored leotards at practice that match their personalities. Wei Wei is yellow, Joanne wears pale pink, Mina wears blue, and Haley is the only one wearing black.
  • Conflict Killer: Whatever conflict existed between the gymnasts gets an abrupt death when the plot arrives to nationals and the judges' overly petty judging methods take center stage.
  • Defiant Strip: A variation of this trope plays a major role in the climax. At the National Gymnastics Championships, Mina performs an incredibly complicated routine on the vault without making a single mistake, but doesn't get a perfect score because one of her bra straps inadvertently started showing, which makes her lose points. Protagonist Haley is the next to go, but instead steps up to the horse used for the vault, pulls down her leotard to show her bra strap, and taps the equipment. This action, known as a "scratch," immediately disqualifies her. The other contestants realize what Haley is doing and join the cause, with each woman stepping up, showing her bra strap, and touching the horse, forcing the judges to award Mina the gold medal by default. The gymnasts then team up to deliberately subvert the judges' archaic rules by unanimously deciding the best athlete in each contest and then disqualifying themselves to ensure that she wins the top prize.
  • 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.
  • Evil Former Friend: Teased when Haley sees Tricia again at nationals. Ultimately subverted when Tricia joins Haley's rebellion.
  • Evil Is Petty: It's made perfectly clear that the judges in the finals deduce points out of incredibly persnickety reasons (half a point for bra strap allegedly showing even when it's impossible for the film's audience to see that, for example) or, in Haley's case, sheer spite (they deduce points from her routines because they don't like her coach).
  • Fanservice: There is a segment that shows nothing but the female gymnasts applying a spray to their butts to keep their leotards 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".
  • 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.
  • The Lad-ette: Haley is a rebellious, sarcastic motorcycle-riding tomboy who, when she's not doing gymnastics, usually wears baggy pants and men's shirts.
  • Like Brother and Sister: There isn't a hint of romantic attraction between Haley, Frank, and Poot.
  • Malaproper: Joanne.
  • Mandatory Unretirement: Haley was forced back into Gymnastics after getting into trouble with vandalism, though mot 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.
  • Person as Verb: Referenced by Haley in the "insanely high mountains" scene when she talks about how gymnastics tricks are named after the gymnasts who did them first.
  • 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.
  • 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! (To be fair, a Worlds team final would be pretty serious business for just about any gymnast, and costing the team a medal like that would be a huge deal.)
    • As shown at the climax, a visible bra strap is worth a half-point deduction. At the time, that was about the same deduction as for a fall.
  • 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 (now former) women's national training center, the Karolyi Ranch, is in Texasnote , or the fact that Texas was at the time home to two international quality gyms — WOGAnote  and Texas Dreams. note 
  • 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 It or Break It.
  • The Snark Knight: Haley.
  • Talent Double: 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 vs. 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."
    • A more traditional example in Tricia versus Wei Wei; the former earns a higher technical score, the latter inspires the audience with creativity and passion even if she's less skillful.
  • Teen Genius: Only briefly stated, but apparently Haley got her GED when she was 15.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Haley Graham is as much The Lad-ette as you can possibly be in a sport that involves beaming, heavily made-up teenage girls dancing around to pop music in bright, spangly leotards.
  • 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.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Haley, Frank, and Poot are portrayed as this.
  • 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 (at the 2005 World Championships, shortly before the film aired, the best scores were in the 9.5 range, with a 9.6 or better being almost out of the question, and it's only gotten harsher since then), although this was exaggerated for the film.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Haley's Dad says this almost verbatim to her.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: On the first day of Nationals, Tricia qualifies to only one event final, but somehow wins the all-around, meaning she had the highest score of the day despite finishing outside the top eight on three out of four events. While it's not technically impossible, it is extremely improbable, especially given that another gymnast (Haley) qualified to all four finals; the math on that would require things to play out in a pretty exceptional way, but there's no indication that that happened.

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