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Fired Up (2009)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc released: 6/9/2009

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/31/2009

A lot of people are simplifying these days -- doing less, spending less, purging things, etc. Simple is in. Yet, simplistic is not. Anytime something is basic and familiar in entertainment, it gets ridiculed. Trust me, I'm as guilty as anyone in accusing something of being formulaic. But, sometimes a simple palette can be the jumping off point for something special. A good bit of Fired Up is made up of things that we've seen before, but the original parts make the movie worth seeing.

Fired Up introduces us to Shawn (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen), both of whom are high school football stars. They are also players off of the field, as they have scored with nearly every girl at their school. As football season approaches, it's time for football camp. The guys can't stomach the thought of two weeks without girls. They overhear the cheerleaders discussing cheerleading camp, and the fact that over 300 girls attend. Nick and Shawn get the brilliant idea of ditching football camp, joining the cheerleading squad, and going to cheer camp. Cheerleading captain Carly (Sarah Roemer) doesn't buy their story, but she's overruled, and soon Shawn and Nick find themselves at cheerleading camp. In the beginning, their plan works, as they meet many interesting girls. But, they soon find themselves getting involved with the cheering, and Shawn begins to fall in love with Carly. Will they be able to pull out of their plan and return to their old ways.

Read over the entire plot of Fired Up, from beginning to end, and you'll find that it is chock full of cliches. In fact, it's almost as if Writer Freedom Jones made a list of every high-school/sports movie cliche and then made sure that every single one of them made it into the script. We get the sly guys who lie their way into a situation, the guy who falls in love with someone that he never expected to like and then learn that she has a jerky boyfriend, the characters who suddenly realize that they love something that they never thought that they would, and many, many others. This may seem like laziness, but after seeing the film, you begin to realize that this is most likely the big joke in the film. Fired Up isn't a spoof, but by putting in every plot device that we've seen before, the movie is making fun of movies which have come before it. The only primary element which may be a joke is that Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D'Agosto are 32 and 29 years old respectively and they're playing 17 year olds.

Within this framework, Fired Up blossoms into a surprisingly clever and funny comedy for two reasons. For starters, the script is very smart. Again, the entire script is in on the joke and the story becomes quite absurd at times. The premise itself is so bonkers that the humor has to go one step further. By that, I don't mean that it pushes the envelope in being risque or crude (although there are touches of that sort of humor), I mean that the jokes get odder and odder until the final scene becomes very meta. The dialogue is very clever and there are jokes here which have no business being in a teenager movie. The second winning aspect of the movie are the actors. While the lines are funny, Eric Christian Olsen and Nicholas D'Agosto really sell their dialogue and their delivery is often flawless. Some of the lines wouldn't be that funny coming from others, but these guys play off of each other perfectly. John Michael Higgins has a cameo in the film and really steals the show.

Fired Up could easily be described as Bring it On meets some American Pie subplot. To be honest, I really didn't expect much from the film, but it had me in tears by the end. It's easy to see why audiences and critics dismissed the film when it played in theaters, but this movie certainly deserves a second chance. If you enjoy lowbrow set-ups which are followed by punch-lines that seemingly come out of nowhere, then you'll get a kick out of Fired Up.

Fired Up stands with arms akimbo on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 26 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, as it shows no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly dark or bright. The image shows a nice amount of detail and there is very good depth to the picture. As with the film, I wasn't expecting much from the transfer, but the movie looks great. The Disc contains a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is an impressive track, as it delivers great stereo and surround effects. The stereo effects are very detailed and show good separation. The surround sound effects work well during the crowd scenes. The in-film music gives the track nice subwoofer effects.

The Fired Up Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Will Gluck and actors Nicholas D'Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen. This is a fun track as the three are very frank about the making of the movie. Many tracks are done before the movie is released, but clearly this one wasn't, as Gluck comments on the fact that the movie was a flop. The guys make fun of each other, but they also talk about the actors and locations. "This is Not a Cheerleading Movie: The Making of Fired Up" (16 minutes) focuses on the cheering aspects of the film, as well as the general production. We hear about the training through which the actors had to go, and some of the accidents which occurred. From there, the piece looks at things like night shooting and costuming. D'Agosto and Olsen talk about training for both cheerleading and football in "Double Duty" (6 minutes). The Disc contains an 8-minute GAG REEL, which contains many scenes which were ruined by peacocks. "Fired Up Press Junket - Hour 12" (2 minutes) shows D'Agosto and Olsen freaking out on a reporter...hopefully this is fake.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has also brought Fired Up to DVD. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. Compared to the Blu-ray, the image here is slightly dark and somewhat soft. Otherwise, the image is sharp and clear and the colors look fine. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and the music sounds fine, but for a Sony DVD, the surround sound is a bit weak.

The extras on the DVD are the same as those on the Blu-ray.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long