Cult Film Crash Course: ‘Bring It On’

Photo courtesy of Imdb

Savannah Cooper | Reporter

“I’m sexy, I’m cute, I’m popular to boot!” If you can finish the rest of that cheer verbatim, you’re a certified fan of cult classic. The cheerleading world was rocked in August 2000 by the instant summer phenomenon blockbuster “Bring It On.” This film offered a look into the coveted cheer world, while also offering both social commentary and slight satire that inspired millions of viewers across the country to pick up the closest pair of pompoms.

Torrance Shipman, played by Kirsten Dunst, is the newly-elected team captain for the Toro cheerleading squad from Rancho Carne High School in San Diego. She has big shoes to fill, as she’s replacing “Big Red” and her team is aiming for their sixth consecutive national title.

Once Toro teammate Carver gets injured, Missy Pantone, played by Eliza Dushku, a recent transfer from Los Angeles, notices that their cheers are the same as a rival squad her old high school used to compete against. Missy calls out Torrance and then takes her to watch, and they find out Big Red used to regularly attend East Compton Clovers practices to record and steal their routines and present them as her own to win regional and national competitions.

Gabrielle Union starred opposite of Dunst as Isis, the captain of the Compton Clovers team and strong outspoken leader who wants nothing but the best for her team. When Isis meets and later confronts Torrance about taking their cheers, she promises that she’ll see and beat them at nationals, despite them never reaching that feat prior.

Outside of catchy cheers and teen heartthrobs, “Bring It On” also discusses timeless topics that continue to make this movie relevant nearly 20 years later. When Isis and her main crew played by Natina Reed, Shamari Fears and Brandi Williams of rhythm and blues girl group Blaque, attended a Toro home football game, they caught the girls stealing their cheers and performed them alongside the squad from the stands to prove it. Cultural appropriation is far too common in the performing arts, and “Bring It On” illustrated that.

The movie highlights the juxtaposition between a predominantly white, well-off high school compared to a primarily black and Latino team who had never made it to a regional or national championship due to financial constraints.This element of the plot addresses privilege and how the lack of hurdles to achieve a common goal is selectively applied for those who don’t benefit from current infrastructures.

Having both Torrance and Isis representing female leadership continues to inspire many young girls to start pursue cheerleading themselves and/or aim for leadership positions as it did when the movie was released. The film also showed the importance of standing up for yourself and accepting responsibility as a true leader and not shying away from your mistakes.

This film was the first installment of the “Bring It On” film series which rounded out to six in total with five direct-to-video sequels: “Bring It On Again” (2004); “Bring It On: All or Nothing” (2006); “Bring It On: In It to Win It” (2007); “Bring It On: Fight to the Finish” (2009); and “Bring It On: Worldwide #Cheersmack” (2017). Each film revolves around a team pursuit of winning an upcoming cheerleading competition where unexpected roadblocks come up along the way.

The small budget of $11 million that resulted in a No. 1, $90.5 million debut in the box office, a popular, easily recognizable Halloween costume and iconic quotes like, “I know you didn’t think a white girl made that sh*t up,” this film is an easy addition to the cult classic category. “Bring It On” has, is and will continue to bring it. Ready? OK!