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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 3/15/02

Sugar & Spice
2001 (2001) - New Line

review by Brian Ford Sullivan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Sugar & Spice Film Rating: D

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B+/C

Specs and Features

84 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, Snapper case packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at ???), cast and crew biographies, 4 deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, DVD-ROM features (including script viewer and weblinks), animated film-themed menus with music, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

Let's face it - you're going to see, buy or rent this film because there are cheerleaders in it... cheerleaders with guns anyway. That's more or less where the novelty of this film begins and ends. A kitschy high school comedy in every sense of the word, Sugar & Spice is like one of those Saturday Night Live skits that should have been stopped at five minutes, but ends up running long enough to kill the joke. Following the exploits of a group of creepily attached high school cheerleaders (they apparently are so close they have the same menstrual cycles), Sugar & Spice details said cheerleaders exploits as they take up bank robbery to help support one of their own when she gets knocked up by the popular boy in school. With such a goofy premise, the film is exactly what you'd expect. And the characters are cookie-cutters of various girl stigmas (the bad one, the nice one, the slutty one, etc.), each complete with vacant stares to make them all even less believable.

Originally titled Sugar & Spice & Semiautomatics, the title change no doubt came into effect due to worries over increasing high school violence. The thing of it is though, there's nothing in this flick to take seriously at all. Told in flashback from the perspective of an ostracized girl (The Practice's Marla Sokoloff), who secretly worships the group, we're told how young Diane Weston (Marley Shelton - the leader of the snobbish cheerleading group) meets Jack Bartlett (James Marsden), falls in love and accidentally gets pregnant. The duo decides to come clean to their parents and get married... but all does not go according to plan. Instead of supporting them, their parents kick them out and it's not long before they're cutting coupons to make ends meet. The cheerleaders, trying to help out their clueless leader, find that thanks to a healthy dose of action movies growing up they could easily rob the local grocery store's bank. After all, they're cheerleaders - they have the talent, coordination and spunk to pull it off. Plus, it helps that the resident bad girl, Mena Suvari, has a mother that's in prison for shooting her dad. The group seeks her aid and the heist is a go.

No doubt you can fill in the gaps from seeing other heist movies, as the film rises the occasion to be as generic and cliché as possible. Getting way too much mileage out of things like cheerleaders doing back flips to hop over bank counters and Valley girl dialogue, this film is as I said before - a passingly amusing idea over-stretched into a feature film length. Somewhere amongst all this, the film tries a feeble attempt at social commentary, however whatever comments it does make are drowned out by the flick's relentless quest to be as close to a zero calorie meal as possible. All in all, you know what you're getting into with this film.

As far as the DVD goes, being a New Line release, we're treated to the usually good transfer and audio mix. I was surprised though, to find the source print does seem a little grainy, which at times can get distracting. Colors and blacks though are quite firm and well rounded. Being a cheerleader flick, we're treated to a cornucopia of bright colors. On the sound side of things, you get solid 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital choices for your listening pleasure. Despite being sold as more action driven, the film is fairly dialogue heavy and there's not too much of a difference between the two tracks, aside from the inherent weaker sound projection of the latter. Extras are fairly slim, including the usual cast and crew biographies and the theatrical trailer in anamorphic widescreen. Also included are four deleted scenes, two of which are minor extensions of existing ones in the film. It's pretty easy to see why they were cut in either case. Finally, those with DVD-ROM capabilities can peruse the film's script and check out the flick's web site.

Overall, if you want cheerleaders, you'll get cheerleaders in Sugar & Spice. Any expectations beyond that are grounds for a huge disappointment. I will give New Line its due though as far as the DVD goes - the quality is there for a movie-only release.

Brian Ford Sullivan
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