With their mother away on a week-long business trip, my daughters decided to take me to the movies tonight. There was only one hitch: I didn't get to pick the movie.
I approached the night with some trepidation, because my girls often go to the movies together - both boyfriends work some weekend nights - and their range of movie selections skews heavily toward the White Oleander/The Notebook/Fried Green Tomatoes/Beaches end of the spectrum. In other words, this had potential to be an estro-fest, a total chick flick, and if I wanted to go with them, I was just going to have to grit my teeth and adopt the same kind of attitude that gets me through those trips to the drug store to buy paper goods.
Well, fine. I love their company, and what else would I be doing anyway, so I went along. The movie: Stick It. It's the story of a teenage girl, a rock n rollin' rebel who is forced to return to the intense, disciplined world of competitive gymnastics she had quit two years earlier.
Mini Rant: The world of competitive gymnastics (like the world of figure skating) generally creeps me out. My girls were never encouraged to take part in gymnastics because it is run by a money-hungry machine that tends to feast on the broken dreams of pushy stage parents. It devours prepubescent children, physically abuses them, and spits them out the other end with underdeveloped social skills, psychological issues, and permanent, sometimes debilitating injuries. Other than that, of course, it's a great sport.
So I did not go in predisposed to appreciate this movie. I kinda rolled my eyes and thought "What the hell ... I'm with my girls, it's two hours I didn't have plans for, and worst case I can nod off in the dark."
I don't know when I've enjoyed a movie more in the past couple of years.
I'm not saying this is The Godfather or Casablanca or that it will be prominently mentioned for the Oscars or the Golden Globes. But dammit, it was a good story, well told, with engaging performances, a strong point of view, and a moral compass without being old-fashioned or preachy.
It had some moments where you laughed with glee as these kids stuck it to The Man, some brilliant cinematography, and some real, honest-to-God surprises and twists. The characters - in fact, the entire package - intitially felt cliched, but layer was quickly added upon layer and by the midway point all the characters were rich and distinct and fresh and well developed and the story was carrying everything along effortlessly and without the whole "Oh, and of course, here's the part where this always happens in these movies ..." predictablilty.
When i saw Jeff Bridges' name in the opening credits, I assumed he was slumming and had taken a part just for the money. I'm pretty sure now he read the script, liked it, and saw it had potential to be the kind of quality project he's usually associated with.
I'd give it 4 1/2 out of 5 Stars. It's a terrific, fun, night at the movies. If you have teeange girls, this is a great movie to take them to, if only to keep them away from Tom Cruise movies. This is empowering for girls, a lot of laughs for everybody, and Scientology-free.
And gymnasts (at least, the adult ones in this movie)? Not hard on the eyes. Just sayin'.