The teen romp comedy "Fired Up!" can be viewed much like a Wal-Mart, in that its consumers pretty much know exactly what quality of product they're going to get -- serviceable and sturdy, nothing flashy or unique. "Fired Up!" is a distraction of limited appeal with no desire to be anything more.
In it, a pair of football players -- played by Nicholas D'Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen, both actors closer to 30 than the high schoolers they portray -- are interested more in girls and sexual conquest than football camp, so they decide to attend summer cheerleader camp to swim in a sea of better percentages. Subsequent lessons are learned.
The film tries desperately to have it both ways, to linger a little too long on lithe, young female bodies in skimpy, tight-fitting exercise gear while also maintaining a thin veneer of sensitivity so as to not alienate any potential female audience members. The makers of "Fired Up!" are self-aware enough to directly reference "Bring It On," the "Godfather" of modern cheerleader movies, but not competent enough to match its wit, verve or sharp visual grammar. The clunky cheerleading sequences prove that having filmmaking equipment and knowing what to do with it are two very distinct things.
The film does raise the question: Just when did John Michael Higgins become one of the funniest people in America? He can be glimpsed as far back as "Vampire's Kiss," more recently in such films as "A Mighty Wind" and "The Break-Up," and is the most watchable thing on TV's "Kath & Kim." He effortlessly pulls off the getting-it/not getting-it mix that the rest of the cast here gropes toward, and the movie perks up whenever he is on screen as the sexually ambiguous head of the cheerleading camp.
Passable in its efficiency, "Fired Up!" is less offensive than it might have been while also managing to be staggeringly uninspired. It tries to put its loutish behavior in ironic quotation marks, but being smart enough to know when you're being an idiot still doesn't make the behavior welcome.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times