Bring It On

I define being the best as competing against the best there is out there and beating them.” –Torrance (Bring It On, 2000)

I don’t know what’s scarier, neurotic cheerleaders or the pressure to win. I could make a killing selling something like Diet Prozac.” –Missy (Bring It On, 2000)

Look, we’re the shit, the best. We work hard, have fun, and win national championships. I’m offering you a chance to be a part of that.” –Torrance (Bring It On, 2000)

Title                 : Bring It On
Director            : Peyton Reed
Starring            : Kirsten Dunst, Eliza Dushku, Jesse Bradford, Gabrielle Union
Genre               : comedy, teen drama
Distributor        : Universal Pictures
Release date     : 25 August 2000
Running time     : 98 minutes

"Bring It On" movie poster - source:

Being a grown-up is not only measured by the number of age, but also the maturity of mind. It’s not about how old we’ve got, but it’s more about the matter of how our lives so far has shaped our perspective towards life itself, how we handle things, how we deal with daily problems, and how we want to find ourselves in the future. A life-changing moment can happen in anytime, hence people will never stop growing up. Within the ups and downs of life, people are forced to keep growing strong, and that’s the measurement of being a grown-up. Well oh well, August will be over in just two days and this perhaps is our last post for Growing Strong. Me myself had a roller-coaster month and it has been amazing with its ups and downs. So, in order to conclude this amazing month, I would like to present a review of the film titled “Bring It On”. And apparently, a few days ago was the 15th anniversary of this cult classic teenage movie.


The movie follows the journey of high school cheerleading squad, the Toros of Rancho Grande High School, led by the newly appointed team captain Torrance Shipman (portrayed by Kirsten Dunst). However, during the first practice they have with Torrance as captain, one of her teammate is injured and can no longer compete. After having an audition, Torrance replaces her injured teammate with Missy Pantone (portrayed by Eliza Dushku), a gymnast who recently transferred to the school with her brother Cliff Pantone (portrayed Jesse Bradford), with whom Torrance develops a flirtatious friendship. After watching the Toros practice, Missy recognizes their routines from a rival squad that her previous high school used to compete against. She drives Torrance to Los Angeles, where they watch the Clovers of East Compton High School perform routines that are virtually identical to their own team’s. Torrance learns that the Toros’ former captain regularly attended the Clovers’ practices to videotape and steal their routines.
At the Toros’ next home game, the Clovers, led by team captain Isis (portrayed by Gabrielle Union), show up and perform the Toros’ routine in front of the whole school, humiliating them. The Toros realize that they have no choice but to learn a different routine. In desperation, they employ a professional choreographer named Sparky Polastri (Ian Roberts) to provide one, as suggested by Torrance’s boyfriend, Aaron (Richard Hillman). However, at the Regional Championship, the team scheduled immediately ahead of the Toros performs the exact routine they had been practicing. The Toros have no choice but to perform the very same routine. After the debacle that ensues, Torrance speaks to a competition official and it turns out that Polastri has provided the routine to several other teams in California. As the defending champions, the Toros are nevertheless granted their place in the National Championship, but Torrance is warned that within the limited time and high pressure, a new routine will be expected from the Toros.


The art of creating something organic and original is never easy, and also, not to mention the difficult work that goes into that creative endeavor. Nevertheless, life is about hard work, and it’s a part of growing up too. When Torrance takes the leadership baton from the former captain of Toros, the team is at its peak, defending champion for years at the Nationals. Consequently, this makes her not only being responsible to continue the legacy, but also to defend their winning status. However, responsibilities aren’t as simple as just painting by a set of simple numbers to take her team to victory. The thing about life is, it isn’t handed to you on a silver platter. It’s about hard work, and Torrance is about getting to understand it when she becomes the captain. And in order to trigger creativity, sometimes we have to get out from the comfort zone, tear it all apart, and build it all over again from the beginning. It’s hard and nobody says it’s gonna be easy. But at least, we try our best, and growing up takes some trials and errors.
Through Torrance’s journey here, we can see the rough and painful transition from high school to adulthood; about growing up and accepting responsibility. Not all of her team members are following her just because she is the captain, yet from this she learns that a leader doesn’t lead by status, but by attitude. The effort doesn’t end by becoming a leader, because there’s always be the next challenges, perhaps even bigger and harder than before. The fight doesn’t end by becoming a champion, because there’s always be another contenders, perhaps even stronger and tougher than before. Thing about highs school is, well, while living it sometimes we were drifted away, we feel like we live in this protective little bubble filled with friends and exams and extracurriculars. And while some of that prepares us for college and the world beyond, none of it truly prepares us for the responsibilities and the harsh realities of being on our own, of taking ownership of our mistakes and our faults, of trying to be better versions of ourselves.


Therefore, in life there are people known as the agents of moral awakening. Someone will meet some people that give enlightenment towards them, give meanings and new perspectives, or even open their eyes and become a trigger to something important in their life; that’s the agent of moral awakening. As for Torrance, that person is Missy. Missy helps remove the blinders from Torrance’s eyes, showing her a world that exists beyond her high school, and even her own city, by taking her down to East Compton to see the Clovers, whose cheering routines her former captain plagiarized. I recognize the same pattern with what happens in “Pitch Perfect”; Beca is the agent of moral awakening for Aubrey, only it doesn’t take the whole team to disenchant Torrance that a change is indeed needed in order to be better. On the other hand, she is the one who has to convince her team to take a chance and make a change and breakaway, to gather their courage and trust, to make it all work and grow strong together as a team.
With all that’s happening in her life, Torrance probably doesn’t have time to think about romance. Well, it’s not high school if there’s not a splash of romance in it. It’s an inevitable part of growing up. And romance, probably, is one of the most crucial triggers in human’s maturity. As for Torrance, through her relationship with Aaron, she realizes that everyone needs somebody who’s always there to support and console them whenever they need, not physically but psychologically. When she fails, she needs someone to cheer her up instead of someone who judges and brings her down. Through her budding friendship/romance with Cliff, Torrance realizes that boyfriend is not merely a lover, but more of a bestfriend and partner, apparently, something that she hardly finds in Aaron. Moreover, she finds out that Aaron cheats on her, and this is the worst part of a relationship. She’s young, beautiful, and talented, so why wasting her time with unfaithful boyfriend like him. Here, Cliff becomes her another agent of moral awakening; rude, but for good.


Since its release, “Bring It On” has become a cult classic, been appeared in some other movies with teen or cheerleading theme. It received mostly positive reviews, with some critics praising its light nature and humorous take on its subject. All of the cast members were falling right into their places, and I have to mention that the chemistry between Dunst and Bradford was no joke. Jessica Bendinger did a well-done job as the scriptwriter, making a witty and quite realistic plot, which in the end, it’s not the result that matter the most, but the hardships that we’ve been through during the process. Just like (ups, spoiler upcoming!) what Torrance said to Cliff when the Toros won only second place at the Nationals, which means they were failed to hold their defending champion, “It feels like first.” In return, they got new friends and became unified stronger than ever, and more importantly they understood that it’s so much more than just a winning trophy.

I am a choreographer. It’s what I do. You are cheerleaders. Cheerleaders are dancers who have gone retarded. What you do is a tiny, pathetic subset of dancing. I will attempt to transform your stiff, robotic routines into poetry written with the human body. Follow me or perish, sweater-monkeys.” –Sparky Polastri (Bring It On, 2000)


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