out of Five
Running time: 103
Uneven but nonetheless enjoyable comedy with a witty script, a commendably rebellious attitude and superb performances.
What's it all about?
Written and directed by Jessica Bendinger (who wrote Bring It On), Stick It stars newcomer Missy Peregrym as Haley Graham, an ex-gymnast turned rebellious teen and extreme sports nut, who ends up in court after her latest stunt results in criminal damage. The judge sentences her to a stint in a gymnastics academy run by has-been coach Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges), who is determined to restore Hayley to her former glory at the next competition, whether she likes it or not.
Unfortunately, Hayley's reputation precedes her, having walked out on her teammates during a previous Championships competition. Scrappy and cynical, Hayley is constantly at odds with both Vickerman and her fellow students, until she realises that there are bigger butts to kick, in the shape of the ludicrously strict gymnastics federation judges.
Missy Peregrym is a real find – she gives an energetic, funny and extremely physical performance, to the point where you feel exhausted just watching her. Bridges is excellent as always and there's strong support from both Vanessa Lengies (as Hayley's chief rival Joanne) and Nikki SooHoo as quirky fellow gymnast, Wei Wei.
Bendinger's script is packed with witty, eminently quotable one-liners (It's not called gym-NICE-tics!) and it builds to a genuinely rousing, hugely crowd-pleasing finale. The direction is also incredibly inventive, using Busby Berkeley-style shot from above kaleidoscope techniques and digital trickery to keep the routines both colourful and visually interesting.
Unfortunately, not all the jokes work and for every zinging one-liner there's a joke that either falls flat or feels out of place.
Similarly, the finale feels rushed and two of the supporting characters (Kellan Lutz and John Patrick Amedori as Hayley's dumbass male friends) are both irritating and superfluous.
Enjoyable comedy, thanks to a witty script, Graham's lively performance and a crowd-pleasing finale that refuses to cop out.