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Fired Up! (Avalon Mall)

The premise couldn’t be any less original: two football jocks quit their high school team and join the cheerleading squad in time for the cheer camp—translating to hundreds of opportunities for lovemaking. With more than a few nods to Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds and Bring it On, (though not quite in the same league as any of those) Fired Up! is a relatively smart, goofy comedy that respects itself when it really shouldn’t.

Eric Christian Olsen (Nick) and Nicholas D’Agosto (Shawn) are funny and likeable in the leading roles, with a visible chemistry that continues as their underdog squad, The Tigers, prepare to tackle hated rivals, The Panthers, at the annual cheer competition.

Dispelling one of the pre-conceptions one might have about a raucous teen comedy full of grab-ass and cheerleaders, the cast of attractive young ladies (300 of them, or so the poster claims), actually remain clothed for the whole movie. In fact, the only serious glimpse of flesh you’ll see is the skinny behind of a male cheerleader named Brewster. This particular decision—a joke in itself—seems designed to separate the film from its ilk.

In the supporting cast, John Michael Higgins (Best In Show, Waiting For Guffman) has some terrific moments as the erratic Coach Keith. David Walton, mostly known for his work as a television character actor, is perfectly despicable as Dr. Rick—an obnoxious goon who isn’t a doctor, breath-shines his crocs, and happens to be head cheerleader Carly’s “pre-fiancee.” Shawn falls not-so-secretly for Carly, and Nick makes for Coach Keith’s “ancient and regretful” wife, Diora.

With cheer camp in full swing, Nick and Shawn—who had initially planned on attending just long enough to “wrangle some snootch”—discover that they actually enjoy cheerleading more than playing football, and do their best to help win the competition.

Bordering on wholesome, Fired Up! keeps things distasteful enough to honor its genre, while refusing to mindlessly appease the younger audience who will primarily be filling the seats.

Incidentally—and this could be a candidate for Useless Piece of Information of the Decade—one of Dr. Rick’s pals (Bruce, the blond one) is actually an ex-American Idol contestant named Alan Ritchson who, while on the show, made note that if you take the ‘meric’ out of American and put the ‘L’ from Idol in there, you’d have Alan Idol. Which isn’t actually the case: you’d have “Alan Ido.”

And if I may speak on behalf of Alan, I do recommend that you see this comedy with a few friends and have a laugh.

Colin Browne