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I am afraid I have to disagree gracefully with the other review on this DVD. I love this DVD and it is in my top three of all time.
If you are not a professional gymnast then you won't notice the tiny adjustments they had to make so the actors could balance on the apparatus. You cannot tell where the stunt doubles start and the actors begin. Hailie (Missy Peregrym) plays a retired gymnast that walked out on her last competition costing her team everything. As the story unfolds the viewer realises that she had her reasons and wasn't just being a moody teenager. She is very mature for seventeen years old and the film is very entertaining to watch.
The film starts with Hailie causing havoc on a housing development site by BMXing her way off the roof, into an empty swimming pool and over planks of wood lying around. All is going well until she starts hearing sirens. Her and her friends scatter and, as she is running through the streets, you learn this is not her first run in with the law and she enjoys it. Hailie finds herself in court sitting with her father on one side and her mother sat alone on the other side of the room. The judge gives Hailie an ultimatum: military academy or VGA. The viewer does not know what VGA is and Hailie does not think twice before opting for military academy. In a dramatic turn of events, the judge disregards Hailie's choice and says, 'VGA it is.' Her mother stands up and asks how on Earth her father could do this to her and we're left thinking she is going to be stoned or something equally as dramatic.
The soundtrack is very good - I love it. There's a few tinkles with the piano, a stint from Electric Six and general punk rock through the film.
Unlike a lot of gymnastics-based films, there is a lot of gymnastics in this film. It is not a film in which gymnastics is a minor story to the main story. It IS the main story.
The entire film itself is based on principle and determination, it has its funny and sarcastic moments because Hailie reminds me EXACTLY of myself (the attitude, not the champion gymnast). It is about a very talented athlete being given a second chance in a different club and touching the hearts of the other gymnasts in that club after a bad first impression. Hailie tries to make the best out of the situation she gets herself in as she proves herself.
Available for £4.99 brand new (at the time of writing) on Amazon and can be bought for less pre-owned.
~~ Nasty Gym Sticks ~~
If you're a gymnastics buff, you're probably well aware of the other gym films out there. There's Perfect Body (which only ever made it onto Region 1 DVD) and the everso similar Little Girls In Pretty Boxes (which languishes on Channel 5 / the Hallmark Channel and never got its deserved DVD release). There's a dubious one called American Anthem from the mid 1980s that was out on VHS. If you're willing to expand the gym theme to tumbling and dancing, there's also Sugar and Spice, and the 4 Bring It Ons (the latest was released on Boxing Day 2007), but these are cheerleading themed rather than "proper" gym. For a sport with such a huge fan base you'd think there would be a market for more gym films, especially of the Mary Kate and Ashley style straight-to-DVD variety, but that's all there is really that I (and the IMDB) are aware of. So, as the only gym film to be released at the cinema in a long time, Stick It promised to be something special.
~~ The Story ~~
Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym) is a former gymnast who is now into amateur crime. After one misdemeanour too many, she's sentenced to time in, no, not a youth detention centre, but a gym club run by a nazi gym coach(Jeff Bridges). Oooh.
It's a dubious start, and with more BMX biking than beam and bars, I was wondering for a bit when the proper gym from the trailer was going to appear, but it does soon enough.
Having walked out of a prestigious comp some years ago, costing the team their chance to medal, Haley is no one's favourite in the new club. Add in the fact that she's now pretty out of shape, and it's going to be a pretty uncomfortable stay at the academy. As she begins to train and compete with the team again, she has to face the usual crisis that befall teens in mediocre flicks - being tamed from a wild child to a team player, growing up, dealing with fitting in and making friends, learning that winning isn't everything. If it sounds cheesy, it's because it is, but it's not as unpredictable as it sounds, and though it's fragmented in places, the last comp leading up to the finale is quite fun and something I genuinely did not see coming.
My favourite character is that of the mildly bitchy Joanne (Vanessa Lengies) simply because she has some silly lines:
"If you get on this tramp you will have a cardiovasectomy."
"Can we retire the old long-sleeved leotards? I have a constitutional right to bare arms."
Would you know it's written and directed by "Bring It On(1)" writer, Jessica Bendinger? Um, no, and I think if that's your primary reason for buying the DVD, you might be disappointed. It doesn't have the same witty banter or cool cast, nor is it bubbling over with pep. It's almost as if she wanted to make a point and do something completely different - or else show the world how different "proper" gym is from "easy" cheerleading. One of the commentaries (below) touches on the fact that she was a gymnast when she was younger.
The voice overs from Haley are quite fun though. As the gymnasts are going through their moves, sweating it out in the gym, she'll come out with stuff like:
"The only reason I'm doing these tricks, is because someone said 'I don't care if this is nuts, and I don't care if it hurts. I'm gonna climb this insanely high mountain. Watch me.' And when you're the first to climb a new mountain in gymnastics, they name it after you. A Gienger, a Rufolva, a Tchusovitina, a Shaposhnakova."
"Elite gymnastics is like the navy seals, only harder. There are like 2000 navy seals, but only like 200 elite gymnasts. Guess that's because there's kids who's rather have a life than spend 6 hours a day training tricks that could kill you. Don't be fooled by the leotards people, the things gymnasts do make navy seals look like wusses. And we do them without a gun."
This film is not hilariously funny or well written, and is kinda formulaic, but it has something that makes you watch it more than once if you're in the gym world. Which leads nicely on to...
~~ The Gym ~~
How much of a gymphile do you need to be to get the film? I've been involved with only the briefest of breaks in gym since I was 4 years old, firstly in artistic gymnastics and then more recently in trampolining. I was never going to be an Olympian, but I liked it a lot, and I feel I know a reasonable amount about the sports. That said, I watched it twice before getting where the whole "Stick It" thing comes from - in the UK, we're more "Stick" people, or we were in the 1990s when I was last focussing on sticking landings. On the whole there's not too much gym vocab in the film, and in the case of the moves they reference they're no more than you would have heard on a Grandstand commentary. My pet peeve from an ex-gymnast point of view was the leotards - predominantly plain lycra rather than crushed velour. Seriously, what self-respecting gymnast would choose to parade around in an outfit reminiscent of an 80's aerobics class? For those in the know, who haven't yet seen the film, we're talking more Carita House than Milano here.
Can you tell where the actresses end and the doubles begin? Not usually - it helps that a lot of the extras were in fact proper gymnasts, and the main actresses went to a 4 month boot camp prior to filming. Can you tell the equipment being used is not always standard issue (like the extra wide beam they built so the actresses don't fall off)? Again, not usually. Does it look like a proper gym set up? Yeah, most of the time.
~~ DVD ~~
Region 2 (Europe) extras : none
Region 1 (US / Canada( extras : loads (which is why I got the R1 release for Christmas)
These include bloopers and outtakes, "hilarious" deleted scenes (slight over exaggeration) and some music videos with gym clips in, from the soundtrack. There are two commentaries which are more interesting than most, a look at the stunt doubles and full routines from elite gymnasts who feature in the film such as Nastia Liukin
~~ Verdict ~~
This is not a DVD you buy if you're after a great film - it's clichéd in its story and in its dialogue. However none of that matters if all you want is to watch some gymnastics with a mere hint of a storyline, and if that's the case, go for the Region 1 DVD because the extras really maketh the movie with this one.
Highly recommended for a very specific audience, not at all recommended for film buffs. I'm the former not the latter, and have scored it as such.