The title may be “Sugar and Spice,” but the content is closer to snips and snails and puppy dog tails in this supposedly cute story of a pregnant teenage cheerleader and her friends who rob a bank. Lisa (Marla Soloff) a bitter rival of the cheerleaders, narrates the movie. In the first few minutes, she calls a male cheerleader a “fag” and accuses the cheerleaders of being so close they must be “lesbos.” She says the girls are so close to each other they even get their periods together and we get to see them share a box of tampons, passing it to each other under the stalls.
The movie begins by helpfully assigning each member of the cheerleading squad one characteristic, to help us keep them straight. There is “the rebel,” “the brain,” “the mastermind,” etc. The girls have nothing in common other than cheerleading, and yet are completely devoted to each other. As one of them says, “you’re the only family I have.” Parents are hopelessly out of touch or otherwise useless.
The movie wastes the talents of some able performers, and it is almost painful to see this lively and energetic cast struggle with the lazy grubbiness of the script. When the best the director can do to add energy to a scene is to play Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part II” (the successor to “I Feel Good” and “Bad to the Bone” as the most overused soundtrack song), you know they’ve run out of ideas and just don’t care anymore.
Diane Weston (Marley Shelton) is the head cheerleader, relentlessly peppy and optimistic. She and the new quarterback, Jack Bartlett (James Marsden), fall in love. Their parents are thrilled when they say plan to get married, until they explain that it will have to wait until after the baby is born. Their parents kick them out, and Diane and Jack have to find jobs and a place to live. Diane decides that they will have to rob a bank to get the money they need for the baby, and the other girls agree to help. The girls rent movies with robbery scenes to get ideas and then go in with “Betty Doll” masks and what they think are non-working guns.
Parents should know that the dialogue is very graphic and raunchy. A typical comment from one of the girls is, “Just hoping we can finish this up before menopause sets in.” One of the girls says she is not a virgin anymore because she had an orgasm while riding a horse at church camp. Another says that a picture of Jesus “made me hot.” There is an explicit scene of an animal giving birth. The plot centers on a pregnant teenager. (She and the father are devoted to each other and to preparing for the baby.) Another of the cheerleaders is surprised that she is not the first to get pregnant — her mother has the same reaction. One parent is in jail because she shot her husband for having sex with someone else while she was in labor. The girls buy guns and rob a bank with no adverse consequences.
Families who see this movie should talk about the way that Diane shows responsibility, leadership, and organization. She is relentlessly optimistic but practical. When she sees the broken pieces they recieve from the gun dealer, she chirps, “I see a craft project!” The girls show a great deal of loyalty and resourcefulness. Unfortunately, these efforts are directed at robbing a bank, with no sense of any adverse consequences for the people whose money they are stealing. Diane does not feel that she can confide in Jack about their plans. What does that say about their relationship? Why does she feel that only she is capable of doing what she believes is necessary to help her baby? What other alternatives did she have? Parents may want to talk about how families should react if a teenager becomes pregnant. The movie’s final twist shows another moral compromise that families may want to discuss as well.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the somewhat less raunchy “Bring it On.”