Film Review: Fired Up!

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A pair of smart-ass high school football players swap the pigskin for pom-poms when they sign up for cheerleading camp in "Fired Up!," an over-cranked teen comedy that only travels so far on its one-gag premise.

In the absence of any real comic development, the film has characters spouting the same self-satisfied, rapid-fire ramblings crammed with as many pop culture references they can fit in without coming up for air. It's like being trapped for an hour-and-a-half in a pound full of yappy puppies.

While first-time director Will Gluck and credited screenwriter Freedom Jones still manage to score a few worthy chuckles, the lack of a big name line-up and the decidedly sanitized PG-13 rating will unlikely get its targeted teen male audience too fired up.

Figuring they'll be able to dodge football camp and meet hot babes at the same time, Gerald C. Ford High students Shawn (Nicholas D'Agosto) and wise-cracking Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) jump at the chance to join their school's hapless cheer squad, unwittingly getting into the spirit of things much more than they had originally planned.

That's about it for plot, which would have been OK if newcomer Gluck had strong comedic personalities in the lead roles who would be able to hold their own against his hyper, in-your-face directing style.

Despite their best efforts, fresh faces Olsen and D'Agosto come off as second-string Jon Heder and Zach Braff as they attempt to wrap their tongues around self-consciously clever dialogue that sounds like "Juno's" Diablo Cody in double time.

There are still a few moments of amusement to be had, provided mainly by Christopher Guest regular John Michael Higgins as a career cheer camp coach whose mother swears "the first thing he did with his little baby hands was spirit fingers."

Then there's the outdoor screening of "Bring It On," where the campers obsessively recite all the dialogue in unison.

More inspired stuff like that might have made "Fired Up!" something to really cheer for.