2009 | Director: Will Gluck (A bunch of TV writing and directing) | Writer: Freedom Jones
Bad movies get a bad rap. If one goes into the viewing of a purportedly “bad” film with the right mindset, one may find the experience pleasant, if not utterly enjoyable. But there is a rule that separates those in the truly bad category from the so-bad-it’s-good (or SBIG) kind. That rule—authored by either Shakespeare or Gandhi, I forget which—is:
1) An SBIG movie must be something with dramatic intent that, failing miserably at drama, becomes unintentionally funny.
A comedy is, by definition, meant to be humorous; it cannot be unintentionally funny. Therefore, a comedy cannot fall into the SBIG genre. At least, that’s the logical idea behind it.
Fired Up, a mishmash of tired comedy clichés and oft-sophomoric dialogue—and anchored by an intense dislike of human behavior—threatened to be the first comedy that broke that rule for me. I chuckled heartily at the first decent joke that appeared in the film, ten minutes in, and was surprised to find that I was about to chalk my unplanned enjoyment up to involuntary comedy, the benchmark of SBIG supremacy. However, dozens of unplanned gut laughs later, I realized that I had been blindsided not by an SBIG rarity, but by an even more unique phenomenon: the comedy that knows it’s bad, and doesn’t care. Don’t let me mislead you—Fired Up is a supremely idiotic film, but its writer and performers throw themselves into their roles so vigorously that it’s difficult not to be won over by the stupidity of it all.
The plot is cribbed shamelessly from Wedding Crashers: Shawn (Nicholas D’Agosto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) are their high school’s gridiron stars, but when they realize on Football Camp Eve that cheerleader camp offers an infinitely higher chick-to-dude ratio, they join up, despite the threats of their dyspeptic coach (Philip Baker Hall). At cheer camp, being the loathsome perverts they are, the two use every trick in the book to fulfill their lofty goal of “hooking up with” (read: nailing) every eligible bachelorette present. That is, until Nick falls for head cheerleader Carly (Sarah Roemer) and her even-more-despicable boyfriend shows up to throw a wrench in his suddenly genuine plans.
Thanks to the ample use of the supporting characters—played explosively by Hall, John Michael Higgins, and especially David Walton as the jerky boyfriend—that rote plot is rendered unimportant. The performances, particularly by Olsen as the Vince Vaughn-type, are great examples of how to play deadpan, helped to no end by the deceptively witty script by Freedom Jones (almost certainly not his real name), who stocks Fired Up with ridiculous lines that fall flat just as much as they hit home, but who also occasionally offers absurd, Conan O’Brien-like moments of sheer comedy that are likely to make milk spurt from your nose, if you are somehow able to sneak milk into the theater for whatever reason.
It’s not often that I’m surprised by a comedy. Not that the PG-13 Fired Up is shocking, content-wise; instead, I was stunned to find myself laughing at all, so bad were the film’s trailers in the weeks prior to its release. It’s hard to tell potential viewers of a film to expect the worst so that they may experience unforeseen returns, but that’s exactly how I feel about Fired Up. In the baleful and bleak post-Oscar season, you can do a lot worse than let this overwhelmingly stupid movie make you smile.
Rating: Three of Five Stars