Three Cheers for Cheerleading Films in Hollywood

Photo Credit: Univeral Studios
May 4th, 2012

Hollywood is a place where youth and beauty are celebrated. It's no wonder that cheerleading is a popular subject for filmmakers. These films are loved by the PG-13 crowd and do well at the box office. Not all cheerleading movies are created equal. Films in this genre vary from high-energy and peppy to controversial and unique.

"Bring It On" opened on August 25, 2000 and was the highest grossing movie that week. The film starred the adorable Kirsten Dunst and feisty Gabrielle Union as rival cheer captains, Torrance and Isis. While some critics were disappointed in the film, it hit home with teenage and young adult fans. Peppered with high-energy cheer routines, comedy, and romance, the film became an instant classic. The cheer routines were emulated by cheerleaders all over the country. The film went on to gross over $63 million domestically and $22 million overseas. It also spawned four sequels, which are available on video.

A cheerleading movie from 2009 sought to go where no other cheer movie had before: into the world of male cheerleaders. "Fired Up" follows two popular football players, Nick and Shawn. In an attempt to meet women, they con their way into cheer camp. Eventually, they learn to love the sport. Like "Bring It On," the cheer routines are energetic and fun to watch. This upbeat comedy is a cheer movie that appeals to both guys and girls.

Before Torrance and Isis battled it out in "Bring It On," another cheerleader bravely defended her city from vampires. "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is not the typical cheerleading movie. The film follows perky cheerleader Buffy as she learns of her true destiny. Every generation, one girl in the world is chosen to slay the vampires. She manages to juggle school, cheerleading, friends, romance, and slaying the undead without breaking a nail. The comedy stars Kristy Swanson, Luke Perry, Donald Sutherland, and Paul Reubens. The movie had a solid opening weekend. Creator Joss Whedon later turned his concept into an extremely successful television series. The movie is entertaining and has a loyal group of followers.

"Sugar & Spice" is one of the more controversial cheerleading films of all time. The movie tells the story of head cheerleader Diane. She has become pregnant by the captain of the football team. They are young and struggle to support themselves financially. Diane then recruits members of her cheerleading squad to do something unthinkable. They turn to armed robbery as a way to provide for Diane's child. However, things don't go exactly as planned. The teen comedy stars Marley Shelton, James Marsden, and Mena Suvari. Jerry Springer and Conan O'Brien make cameo appearances as themselves. This comedy portrays cheerleaders in a new light.

One of the most beloved films of the 1980s follows a nerdy student as he attempts to woo a popular cheerleader. "Can't Buy Me Love" stars the future Doctor McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey, as Ronald. Ronald is the typical teen. He's awkward, smart, and mows lawns for extra money. He makes a deal with a popular cheerleader named Cindy. For $1,000, she pretends to be his girlfriend for a month. She promptly gives him a makeover and lets him hang out with her popular friends. Once he is accepted by the cool kids in school, his personality changes, and he neglects his friends. As they spend time together, Ronald and the cheerleader build true feelings for each other. Things get out of hand, and Ronald and Cindy both grow as people. The movie is ranked as one of the best high school films of all time. The movie grossed over $31 million at the box office.

Tommy Lee Jones is known for his dramatic roles and villainous characters. In 2005, he appeared in "Man of the House," a cheerleader movie with a twist. Classified as a crime comedy, the movie offers a unique slant on the Hollywood cheer film. A group of cheerleaders witness a murder. Jones' character, Roland Sharp, is a Texas Ranger with attitude. He is given the task of protecting the girls until the murder case is solved. The girls and the officer form a bond and begin to genuinely understand each other. The film is more dramatic than many of the other cheerleading pictures, but it also has a warmth and tenderness that make it entertaining. Tommy Lee Jones delivers a great performance with strength, compassion, and humor.

When it comes to cheerleading movies, Hollywood has something for everyone. These films are funny, classic, endearing, and original. Some bring laughter, some bring tears, but all deliver entertainment and center around the engaging world of cheerleaders.