Starring: Jeff Bridges, Missy Peregrym,
Vanessa Lengies, and Tarah
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 105 minutes
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures/Buena
Director: Jessica Bendinger
Executive Producer: Jonathan Glickman, Roger
Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Louanne
Brickhouse, Kristin Burr,
David Crockett, and Derek
Producer: David Crockett, Derek Evans
and Gail Lyon
Writer: Jessica Bendinger
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, President/CEO
Buena Vista Distribution Co.
(Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures)
Dick Cook, Chairman
The Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
A biking incident lands Haley in the hands of the juvenile authorities. Yet again, arrangements are made by her father to send her to a rigid and militaristic gymnastics academy run by a coach with a reputation for pushing his proteges into the hospital. Will Haley ever grow up and be able to use her gymnastic talent to her benefit?
STICK IT is fast paced and very easily holds the interest of most viewers. Jessica Bendinger, the writer and director, is incredibly gifted at depicting accurately the adolescent angst, and what happens to adolescent angst in the midst of trauma (divorce and subsequent behavioral inadequacy). Missy Peregrym, who plays Haley, does a masterful job and presents a very believable and engaging character. Jeff Bridges also does a great job of portraying a coach who is struggling with his own demons and working to resolve them. The relationship between Haley and Coach Vickerman is the "healing" relationship of the movie, as they each help one another grow into better, more honest, more real people.
STICK IT takes on the sport of gymnastics and the subjective way in which the gymnasts are judged. Haley narrates through parts of the movie that present a montage of gymnasts training and shows the danger and difficulty inherent in the sport itself and her attitude and hurt towards it. One such injustice is the triviality of deductions in points for routines that have minor "wardrobe malfunctions," even if a perfect trick is perfectly landed.
The movie errs too much at times, however, on the side of rebellion. Its message seems to be rebel first and change if needed later. Also, there is really no positive parent in the movie. The movie shows parents pushing their children to be great and make it into the Olympics, but pushing them to sacrifice their own childhood and childhood experiences to do this. Haley's mother and father are depicted as hopelessly selfish and uninvolved.
The only two adults shown in a positive light in STICK IT are Coach Vickerman and the judge. Coach Vickerman becomes a better person, but starts off as a coach who is mostly interested in securing money from parents and willing to lie to get it. He leaves a girl hurt following a trick. Rather than helping her up, he leaves her on the floor and directs another gymnast to prepare for the competition. The girl responds excitedly as her teammate struggles hurt on the floor. Eventually, Coach Vickerman learns that the girls need his encouragement and support. He also learns to let them know that they matter.
The judge shows consistency in her character and encourages Haley to rise above her circumstances and be an overcomer. Haley also has two friends who stand beside her throughout her experiences and encourage her to be the best she can be.
Ultimately, despite the rebellion in the movie, STICK IT has a strong moral worldview promoting hard work, honesty, integrity, teamwork, forgiveness, discipline, and self-sacrifice.
Writer and director Jessica Bendinger of BRING IT ON does a masterful job of identifying the adolescent condition. Missy Peregrym and Jeff Bridges as Haley and her new coach are very good. STICK IT also has a strong moral worldview promoting hard work, honesty, integrity, teamwork, discipline, and self-sacrifice. This positive quality is spoiled by lots of teenage rebellion and plenty of crude language. Also, the movie would have been better if at least one parent didn't behave like a buffoon, or did and was sorry. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE(r) advises caution for children and lots of discussion for teenagers.