In this series of articles, I’ll be posting reviews that have recently resurfaced. A number of the reviews I wrote in the past I thought had been lost to time, but after coming to a realization that they might still exist on the Wayback Machine, I was able to relocate many of them. I believe there are still some that are lost and they may be lost in perpetuity, but I will periodically search for that data or re-write those reviews that I have never found or which I never wrote to begin with.
For now, this series will be extensive with over 300 regular (400+ words), short (400- words), and quickie (1 to 2 paragraphs) reviews. I will attempt to combine them as best as I can. Reviews written in early 1998 or earlier, no date of creation exists. I will post the original writing date where known, otherwise the date will be listed as “unknown.” These reviews were written between the date of my site’s founding in 1996 through much of 2002. It was only after this period that I settled on the standard format and length of reviews as well as posting each one to its own individual page, which is why the old data was ultimately lost.
All but the review content has been replaced to match my current formatting guidelines, which are a bit more thorough than they might have been in those early days. Please note that I am attempting to retain as much of the original editing integrity as possible, so spelling and/or grammar errors may still be present. This may also mean that some factual data is not there as IMDb was not as ubiquitous as it is now. So, let’s get on to today’s review.
Sugar & Spice
Marla Sokoloff, Marley Shelton, Melissa George, Mena Suvari, Rachel Blanchard, Alexandra Holden, Sara Marsh, James Marsden, Sean Young, W. Earl Brown, Adam Busch, Jake Hoffman, Nate Maher, David Belenky, Wiley Harker, Kurt Loder, Jerry Springer
It all started with an “illegal dismount.” That’s what B-team cheerleader Lisa believes in the goody-goody-cheerleaders-go-bad comedy “Sugar & Spice.”
Every high school has them and every girl wants to be one of them and every boy wants to be with them. The trouble is that with all the pressures placed on them, it’s not hard to understand why they might turn to a life of crime. Ok, so the premise is a bit hoaky, but with the right touch of teen angst, original comedy and talented teen performances, “Sugar” is as sweet and tart as it should be.
The film centers on a group of five cheerleaders, part of the A-Squad, who turn to a life of crime when their squad captain Diane (Marley Shelton) gets knocked up by boyfriend Jack (James Marsden). They decide to knock over a bank and in preparation, they each have their own way of researching. Kansas (Mena Suvari) is the daughter of a convict (Sean Young) and seeks her motherly advice. Each of the others must watch various bank robbery movies at home in preparation.
Each of the girls has a slight nuance that intimately captures many of the stereotypical and not-so-stereotypical cheerleaders. Cleo (Melissa George) has a severe Conan O’Brien fetish, going so far as to picture every guy with Conan’s head. Hannah (Rachel Blanchard) is trapped in a über-religious family where she must only watch G-rated films, like “The Apple Dumpling Gang” for inspiration. Lucy is a career-minded girl who doesn’t want to jeopardize her collegiate career, but helps the girls plan in detail.
At one point, they decide they need weapons to pull the job effectively and in order to get them, they must promise to give a shady dealer’s daughter Fern (Alexandra Holden) a position on the team. It’s this decision that finally piques the ire of rival B-teamer Lisa (“The Practice’s” Marla Sokoloff) who goes to the police and begins the film by telling her story.
Each of the actresses takes great pains to portray their characters realistically, yet with a touch of comedic zest. Director Francine McDougall manages to take the amazingly insightful script and translate it to the screen with the passion of a teen film and the nuances of an adult comedy. Together, the blend is enough to make this a teen girl’s version of “Grosse Pointe Blank.”
There are some problems with the film that make it hard to enjoy completely. The studio didn’t put in enough money to improve the photography, editing or other technical components. There’s also a slight difficulty in the otherwise witty screenplay. Many of the situations don’t ring as true as they should, but as a comedy we have to expect that to an extent.
Everyone has a film that they truly enjoy, but find it hard to admit. “Sugar & Spice” is a movie that could easily become one’s “guilty pleasure.” This is especially true with younger audiences who are likely to find allegories within the film’s precious narrative.
This film won’t win awards, but it’s great fun anyway.
March 23, 2001