Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Bring It On

It's time for Best Shot, in which we choose a favorite single image from a film. 

This week...


"I'm major. I roar. I swear I'm not a whore."

Damn but I didn't know how hard this week's decision would be. Sometimes you love a movie for the entire duration and it's hard to single out a scene. Bring It On is 98 minutes of uncut joy.

Today is the 10th anniversary of its release. My anniversary with it is tomorrow. I still remember my first encounter vividly. I had spent the whole day at the beach with my best friend. I was probably a little crisp and was definitely sun fatigued. We had planned to catch 'that cheerleading comedy' on our way home but I was wavering, tired. We trained back into Manhattan and hit the Union Square multiplex with our beach bags in tow. The movie was so high spirited and well executed that it was as bracing and life-affirming as jumping back into the ocean again.

To this day I'm so proud of putting it on my top ten list of 2000. [It's also on my 50 best of the decade list] Great comedies endure but they rarely get critical props during their actual run.

But best shot? That's a tough tough call. Peyton Reed is an underrated director and totally thinks about the framing, the costumes and the actors (see also: Down With Love). I really hope he gets a solid project again soon (forgive him the unfortunately blah Yes Man). I almost went with the beloved toothbrush scene. It's the single cutest and most confident romantic comedy scene of the past ten years. Call it hyperbole if you will but I stand by it. Bring It On is, as a whole, more of a sports comedy but today's sorry romcoms could learn a lot from studying any sequence here that pairs Jesse Bradford's crooked smile with Kirsten Dunst's hyper cuteness.

Reed and Jessica Bendinger, who wrote the screenplay, are also very smart about each and every character introduction. The intros are highlights throughout the movie. The pre-credit dream cheer "T-T-T-TORRANCE" is just insane comedy perfection, perfectly conveying Torrance (Kirsten Dunst) in both her joy, her pre-movie story, and her serious cheer fever. And what about the shot of Missy's (Eliza Dushku) ass entering the auditorium with dangling keys? She's about to unlock the plot. I also dig the low angle first shot of Isis (Gabrielle Union). She gets her very own halo spotlight a name check from offscreen "Isis, do your thing!" all so that you may instantly understand and worship this giantess of cheerleading.

My choice for Best Shot requires two frames with a focus shift. Missy, the new girl, is about to watch the signature Toros cheer. We see her in default hard-to-impress mode, kicking back. BAM! Torrance hair flips her way into the frame, blocking Missy's 'whatever' posturing, shouting "Ready Girls?". It's so so very funny and serves up an instant picture of both the smashingly conceived opposite-but-complimentary leading girls and of potential reactions to the movie.

You know a lot of people went into this movie just like Missy. They're all "A cheerleading movie? Puhleeze" and then, well, JOY. This movie is aggressively fun. Even if you're too cool for school, you will sign up with this team.

Ten years later, Bring it On is still the poo so take a big whiff.

"Oh, they'll bring it."

Click away for cheer fever on these participating sites!
 Other Films in This Series


Ryan T. said...

It was awesome re-watching the film the past day or so. It's just a fun movie.

I love that three of us made a note of that "Isis raises her hand" shot. It really is quite captivating. And I don't know his/her name, but whoever did those shots with all the feet... awesome! And here I thought I saw something no one has noticed before!


Ryan -- i also think the shot of Isis with her hands raised up has a great counterpoint late in the movie when Torrance does the same only she's already defeated and it's more like she's raising her hands up like she's been arrested. Same framing essentially, different mood.

Peyton Reed I love you. Make another good movie please.

I'm still pissed that he missed out on doing Fantastic Four. That was such a bad movie and I assume he had a different mood and tone in mind for it entirely.

joe burns said...

I still haven't seen it, though I've seen parts.

Glenn Dunks said...

Mine is up. Take a big whiff!

I love that shot of Isis, too. So "here I am, bitches"!

Colin Low said...

Haha, brilliant choice of shot! I couldn't think of anything but to go with the obvious (which, of course, they're anything but, given the available choices).

Colin Low said...

Also, although you do say that your ultimate choice is "two which are really one", I have to object on the basis that they're two frames, but one shot.

The point to the legalese being, even though I've totally flouted it for most of my entries, that cinema is about motion*, and the shot that you picked is a stellar example of that principle.

(* By motion, I don't mean just physical movement so much as relations and changes between frames. But that is a little more pedantic than my point needs)

Michael said...

Had to go with Jesse in both my shots. I'm glad there were a lot of Jesse shout outs along the way in other blogs.

And your shot should of course count as one! Eliza Dukshu is outstanding (RIP Dollhouse) but you neeeeed to offset her bitterness with the plastered on "cheer face" of Kirsten Dunst!

Anonymous said...

I totes contributed to this too.


Michael -- truth.

Colin -- you're right actually. I get so used to thinking of "shots" as the other more online meaning: screencaps :)

it's not even an edit. it's just a focus switch and choreographed actor movement to switch you from background to foreground.

Joe -- ARGH. watch it all the way through. it's a joy. (except for that younger brother. oh god why does he have to be in the movie. he's like an export from a seriously inferior hack movie)

Anonymous said...

Here's mine!

It was tough to choose!

Mary said...

Fun choice. I participated.

Jason Adams said...

Whoops I never hit post on my post last night! Here tis. I love that a buncha y'all have already referred to this moment as "the obvious" because I used the same word a couple of times in the post but like others I just couldn't fight it. I am weak. ;)

nirwana said...

very interesting story to tell about romantic comedy about sports and incorporated into one that is very touching

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Hmm I see you added my post already :D Thank you ;) I'll translate to English later, I promise.

I liked the film. I wanted to love it more, like the rest of you, but I can't. I enjoyed it a lot though, which I think was the point. Maybe it's because cheerleading doesn't exist in Portugal that I do not understand the appeal. Hmm.

About the images... I know I've chosen some obvious ones (and probably many people would've picked the same) but they're from my favorite scenes so they had to be there.

Kelly said...

That's a lot of hem and hawing for such an average teen flick. But hells yeah for "A Face in the Crawd" next!

Bia said...

What the hell happened to Jesse Bradford? He should have a bigger career...maybe television will resurrect him one day.


Kelly -- if you think that's whats called "average" I'd love to see what you think is a GREAT teen flick. Because my god it would be awesome. :)

DogDay said...

ugh, wow, this movie was unexpected. i honestly think this movie is on par with movies like Knight and Day or The Back-up plan. I dont know, I thought the comedy kinda sucked in this movie and I naturally like Kirsten dunst but she was pretty annoying in this film. But I never really noticed the intros which i now must admit is kinda cool and fun. and the shot of isis with the "halo" is awesome.

Kelly said...

Oh there are many. It's not hard to list. I'd rank plenty of John Hughes' films over this one. And best teen film honors of the past decade goes to "Mean Girls."

ErikDean said...

Oh Nate, bless your heart. This is really one of my favorite movies ever.

If I was picking a single shot I loved though, it would have to be when Isis and the girls confront Torrance and Missy at their practice and Isis gives them that curled lip snarl that is 100% pure "I WILL END YOU." So glorious.

True fact: I was sick in bed one day and watched this EIGHT times in a row. Still one of my favorites days of my life ever. LOL.


ErikDean -- that is the best story ever. I can't think of the last movie i watched two times in a row.

oh wait i remember. It was TROUBLE IN PARADISE (1932) a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

I love you Nathaniel. Thank you for creating such a delectable, incisive series. Fav shot is either the Isis halo one or the intimate long shot at the swings (love how enormous the swings look).

- Sean C.

He Said She Said said...

We're sexy, we're cute, we're popular to boot! We're bitchin', great hair, the boys all love to stare! Who am I well just guess - guys wanna touch my chest!

I am not ashamed to know the opening song. I discovered this film with my sister and we fell in love with it. Fantastic comedy!


he said -- it is a gem.