"Bring It On" was the surprise hit of the summer of 2000, a gritty ghetto-meets-suburbia cheerleading drama which turned Gabrielle Union and Kirsten Dunst into Hollywood stars. Neither has returned for any of the markedly substandard sequels, yet the acrobatic franchise has somehow endured.
In "Bring It On 2," Union and Dunst were replaced by Bree Turner and Anne Judson-Yager, while in "Bring It On 3," their roles were assumed by Hayden Panettiere and Solange Knowles Smith, younger sister of Beyonce'. In "Bring It On 4," the captains of the competing cheerleading teams were suddenly both white, and played by Ashley Benson and Cassie Scerbo.
The latest edition introduces the first Latina lead, namely Grammy-nominee Christina Milian, who squares-off against a caucasian played by Rachele Brooke Smith. While "Bring It On 5" pales in comparison to the original in terms of cinema verite' and raw intensity, it is still far better than any of the three previous sequels, which didn't take much, trust me.
The storyline is predictable, but at least well-enough executed to entertain the tweeners in the desired demographic. Here's the basic premise in 25 words or more: When her working-class mother marries a well-to-do White guy from Malibu, Lina (Milian) complains about having to move from the barrio to a mansion in Malibu, describing her new digs as "lifestyles of the rich and annoying."
Then, after being rejected by the popular cheerleaders at her new school, she decides to get even with spoiled-rotten witches by forming her own squad comprised of rhythmically-challenged and other ostracized, social zeros. As the tension inexorably builds up to the big championship flip-a-thon, a romantic sidebar has Lina falling for a shy hunk (Cody Longo) who just happens to be the brother of her new sworn archenemy (Smith).
Don't expect any deviations from the hackneyed formula and you won't be disappointed by the picture's pat resolution. Pop music fans ought to appreciate the pulsating soundtrack featuring songs by Ms. Milian, Lady GaGa, Kat DeLuna and The Veronicas.
A high-energy adventure serving up just enough fun to ensure that the "Bring It On" franchise survives for installment #6.
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity and sexual innuendo.
Running time: 103 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, star Christina Milian's interactive video diary, choreography documentary, "The Making of" featurette and an episode of The Chicas Project.