STICK IT (Jessica Bendinger). 102 minutes. Opens Friday (April 28). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Stick It works quite nicely as the high-energy uplift for prepubescent girls that it's clearly designed to be. But under its bubbly surface of eye candy, propulsive pop, light humour and lighter drama, it shoves a sharp little blade into the body of competitive girls' gymnastics.
The story of bad girl Haley ( Missy Peregrym ), forced to return to the sport she despises, looks like a set-up for soapy pathos. But writer/director Jessica Bendinger knows her audience and likes her subject. She gives her climax an unexpected twist and playfully glorifies the beauty of bodies in motion with a series of lively montages that reach Busby Berkeley levels of glee.
At the same time and without blowing her light tone and zippy pace, she foregrounds the danger and pain of training, the girls' sacrifices and the kind of monstrous adults who surround them.
Jeff Bridges is fun as a venal, manipulative coach with a broad streak of the showman, and Vanessa Lengies , as the resident bitch, gets in a good malapropism with "cardio vasectomy." Star Peregrym looks a little large and a little old for the role by high school gymnast standards, but that's a minor quibble, easily overlooked amid all the happy flying bodies.