In comedy, "snappy" counts: "Whaddaya wanna do?" "The brunette in the third row.. .. ."
"Fired Up" is "Juno"-snappy, a formulaic cheerleading farce built on banter. And chemistry. Nicholas D'Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen have worked together before ("Dumb & Dumberer"). They fire off one another like bitchy-glib best friends for life, which their characters, Sean (D'Agosto) and Nick (Olsen) are.
"It is cra-zeeee that people think you're the smart one."
Nick and Sean are Gerald R. Ford High's one-two punch on the gridiron -- a quarterback and his favorite tight end. (Make your own snappy joke about that.) Off the field, they're high school hounds, in tandem, chasing the ladies.
"Sweet Mary in a D-cup!"
But they're not into another blistering summer football camp with their crazy cussing coach (Philip Baker Hall). When they hear that cheer camp has "300 hotties" who don't know them, the player-playas switch teams.
"Dude, we're athletes. We can do anything."
Will the lads learn some respect for the dangerous, difficult sport of cheerleading? Is it all just "kiss kiss bang bang" to our heroes, or will Sean lose his heart to Carly (Sarah Roemer), the no-nonsense head cheerleader? Can he steal her from her pre-med doofus Rick (David Walton, a stitch)? Does Nick have a shot with cheer-coach Diora (Molly Sims)? Or is her hubby, Coach Keith (John Michael Higgins, hysterical as always) more his speed?
Can the Tigers beat beat BEAT the hated Panthers in the big "cheer off?"
"Fired Up" is more a collection of zingers, laugh-out-loud bits and punchy performances than a coherent movie. But the acting, the dialogue and the cutting -- quick, graceful, never stepping on a funny line or sight gag -- sell it. Supporting players such as Adhir Kalyan ("Paul Blart: Mall Cop") drop in, get their giggle, and pop back out. The running gags sprint by as first-time feature director Will Gluck, working from a wisecracking Freedom Jones script, tracks his camera through cheer-camp hijinks with a generally light touch.
We see a montage of the lads' pick up lines ("This is weird. I never open up like this."). All the kids in cheer camp watch "Bring It On" on the lawn, and every kid mouths the dialogue, which they all know by heart.
Olsen and D'Agosto are an Adam Sandlerproduced comedy waiting to happen. You can tell when players genuinely like each other and they click, from the first time they treat an escape from the angry dads of a couple of almost conquered girls as a football play ("Button hook through the window, keys-reverse on two, ready? BREAK!") to their riff on "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake in the closing-credit outtakes.
It may be cheese, and the cheese may be predictably bland cheddar, but there's something to be said for casting, commitment and craftsmanship. It may be as dumb as you'd expect from this team, but "Fired Up" is still the best "dumb cheerleader" comedy since "Bring It On."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times