Since last year’s “Bring It On” was such a pleasant surprise, a genuinely witty and fun look at high-school cheerleaders and their world, it seems logical there’d be a rip-off sooner or later.
And here it is: “Sugar & Spice,” a film whose plot and lack of consequences for its anti-heroes dictate that it be considered a “dark comedy,” but whose jokes fall more in the genre of “teens will laugh at this because teens will laugh at anything.”
The film is narrated by Lisa (Marla Sokoloff), a bitter B-Squad cheerleader whose jealousy toward the A-Squad has led her to turn them in for a bank heist they pulled off. That bank heist was an act of desperation when squad captain Diane (Marley Shelton) got pregnant by her jubilantly dim football-player boyfriend Jack (James Marsden). They moved in together and he got a job at the video store, but they weren’t going to be able to support the baby on such a meager income. So Diane got her cheerleading buddies together to rob a grocery store bank branch.
The jokes here are broad-side-of-the-barn, often grasping at verbal drollness that they just can’t reach. (Lisa says A-Squad’s routine “blew like a bulimic after Christmas dinner,” and that’s about as good as it gets.) The cheerleaders are basic: foul-mouthed tough-girl Kansas (Mena Suvari); virginal Hannah (Rachel Blanchard); geeky Lucy (Sara Marsh); and obsessive/weird Cleo (Melissa George). Their personalities are different, though they ultimately blend together into one big sassy-talking monster cheerleader. The potential humor in cheerleaders using their particular talents to rob a bank is untapped, save for one moment when a girl is launched high enough into the air to spray-paint a surveillance camera (though even that joke doesn’t work, since they’re all wearing masks anyway, making the act unnecessary).
Stay home and rent “Bring It On” instead. Or, like the girls did to glean tips on their crime, watch “Reservoir Dogs” and “The Apple Dumpling Gang.” Either one would be more consistently entertaining than “Sugar & Spice.”
C (; )