Thank you, Dr. Coon, for teaching Television Studies last quarter

22 Jun

Honestly, this review has nothing to do with my comm. professor, nor does it have anything to do directly with television studies, but hear me out here.

I watched the movie “Fired Up” last night, against my will essentially, because my sister wanted to rent it and I was up for anything to get my mind off the shit that went down yesterday.

And I hate to say it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. When I saw the previews initially a few months ago, I was like, oh that looks kinda funny, but I’ll surely never pay to see it. It seemed like every other teen sex comedy that had come out in the last 8 some odd years, and in a way, it was. Shallow dudes try to get hot chicks, blah-diddy-blah. Dumb cheerleader jokes, vapid jock jokes, gay jokes, that virtually makes a stereotypically bad teen film. But – this is where I get to the part why I thank Dr. Coon – “Fired Up” is the strongest example of post-modernism that I’ve seen in a long time.

Obviously, the writer, director, and actors couldn’t have taken themselves seriously. I mean, they made a movie about two football jocks (Eric Christian Olsen and Nick D’Agosto) who go to cheer camp to sex up the 300 chicks there. Frivolous, shallow, ridiculous, but absurdly intriguing. It’s evident in the closing credits and the gag reel that the filmset was fun to be on, and since this was the director, Will Gluck, and the writer, Freedom Jones’ first film, they didn’t really give a shit what happened. Most likely, the fact that the film was making fun of itself wasn’t on purpose. The filmmakers were so inexperienced, yet seemed so self-aware. They let Olsen improv many of the more brow-raising lines. And not double brow-raising from shock, but the one eyebrow-raise – the one that denotes confusion, normally accompanied with the opposite eye squinted. But most of those lines, while completely random, brought about belly laughs and loud cackling throughout my living room.

Some of my favorites include:

Nick Brady: Remember when I pretended to be really into Nickelback for that senior chick?
Shawn Colfax: God they suck.
Nick Brady: So did she.

Nick Brady: Humans are the only species that CAN lie. Except for maybe chameleons. Ooh, and possums. They play dead.

Nick Brady: Bottomless breadsticks only keep you at the Olive Garden for so long, until at some point you look up and say ‘Why the hell am I at the Olive Garden with all these fat people?’

Nick Brady: [reading her nametag] Diora? I believe that’s Italian for ‘beautiful princess’.
Diora: No.
Nick Brady: Well it should be, I’m calling the dictionary people.

Nick Brady: [trying to talk his way out of football camp] So not only yesterday do I find out I’m adopted. The people I’ve been calling “Mom” and “Dad” are actually two infertile impostors who bought me outside of a meth clinic in Cincinatti for two boxes of Sudafed, but I also get this news dropped on me – my birth father, Bruce… well he needs a kidney and I’m the only match and apparently Bruce needs it “stat”. Mmm-hmm. You need it stat, Bruce? Huh? Well maybe I needed a father stat instead of my stay-at-home dad who showers me with love everyday of his life, this goddamn spermless liar!
[pause]
Nick Brady: So now I have to be at Kaiser Permanente at 6 a.m. tomorrow. I know, Bruce couldn’t even afford a real hospital… managed care. Ironic, isn’t it? He never *managed* to care for me.

Ms. Klingerhoff: Don’t judge a book by its cover, Carly. You never really know what a book is about ’til you get to… page 50!
Nick Brady: 50? I wouldn’t have guessed a page over 40.
Shawn Colfax: More like 35.

And there are plenty more. I just thought these were still funny out of context.

But back to the postmodernism part – not only did this movie refer to Animal House, Bring it On – the obvious references, but also the likes of Carlito’s Way, What Not to Wear, The Shawshank redemption, Fraggle Rock, Pocahontas, and Hamlet 2. Yes, Hamlet 2 (rock me, sexy Jesus!). That movie came out… what was it? Last year? I mean, the last time I saw this many random references was “Juno.” And those references still made the movie postmodern, but pretentious as well. These random references – as well as the absurd hatred of Nickelback and Crocs – keep the film far from pretentious. It is a teen sex comedy, after all.

And I completely agreed with the commentary on Nickelback and Crocs – they suck.

Perhaps the most laugh-out-loud stuff comes from Carly (Sarah Roemer)’s boyfriend “Dr. Rick,” played by David Walton. Why does he call himself “Dr. Rick?” Well, he’s a medical student, who didn’t want to “put off the inevitable.” What made his character so grating and hilarious at the same time was the numerous stupid nicknames he gave Carly (Carlito’s Way, Carly and the Chocolate Factory, Carles Barkley, Carlsbad, Carlyfornia, Carlyhorse, Carly’s Junior, Larry, Mo and Carly… and the list goes on). The sincerity of these stupendously horrendous references make you laugh rather than scoff.

But the laughter doesn’t stop there. Remember that band, Chumbawumba? Remember the worst song of the 90s, Breakfast at Tiffany’s? And that Lou Bega guy? He had that one-hit-wonder, “Mambo No.5.” Yeah, you remember it now, but one would never expect songs like THAT to be in a movie like THIS. Maybe some mildly popular pop rock songs from the early 2000’s, and of course mass hits from the likes of the Ting Tings, but not bad songs from the 90s that you once could not get out of your head. “Dr. Rick” couldn’t be more infatuated with these songs, as he loudly sings them in his feminine Beamer. And for the most part, the teens that this movie appeals to won’t even know what the fuck these songs are. They won’t remember these songs. I – being 20 years old – remember these songs, but that’s the fun of it. We laugh at them because the references are over young people’s heads, but not so far over that make them vainglorious, but still utterly mind-boggling.

It’s not like the writer Freedom Jones was setting out to be like, “Hey, tweens, you don’t know who Chumbawumba is? Too bad, suckas!” These aren’t high-brow, elitist references like the uber-indie gore films or Sonic Youth and the Stooges from “Juno.” Not that I’m diminishing “Juno” in any way, but self-righteous indie postmodernism is getting a little old.

I doubt that “Fired Up” will ever be referenced in any other teen sex flick like “Bring It On” has been, but I don’t mind checking my film-snobbery at the door once in awhile and just laugh. And I will say that “Fired Up” is better than any of the sequels to the satirical genius that was “Bring it On.” And it’s refreshing that for once, the cheerleading team essentially lost at the end.

In a way, “Fired Up” was a nostalgic experience for me. Before I really cared to see great movies, and before I took numerous film classes. But I think I might go back and watch a few more of those movies I used to watch, just to experience them in a whole new way.

And I didn’t even mind that Eric Christian Olsen is 32, playing a 17-year-old guy. I swear, he’s been playing the same age since “Not Another Teen Movie” eight years ago.

❤ Abby

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