Volume 94, Issue 71

Tuesday, January 30, 2001


Maestro stick to his hip-hop vision

Sugar and Spice everything but nice

Disc of the Week

Rock movie phun for Phish heads

Sugar and Spice everything but nice

Photo by D. Michaels
WOW THAT NAIR REALLY WORKS! The female cast of Sugar and Spice compare wax-jobs in the disappointing new movie, also starring James Marsden

Sugar and Spice
Starring: Mena Suvari, Marley Shelton, James Marsden
Francine McDougall

By Craig Robertson
Gazette Writer

Following a string of cheerleading-based films like But, I'm A Cheerleader and Bring It On, it seems Sugar and Spice would be another welcome addition to the genre. However, any expectations one might have for this film quickly disappear.

Aimed at a teenage audience, Sugar and Spice contains none of the comedic substance that made American Pie, Road Trip and Bring It On so successful. Told through the perspective of Lisa, a cheerleader who yearns to be on the A-Squad, the audience learns how much she hates the five cheerleaders who are the focus of the plot.

The five girls, who fit the typical American high school teen stereotypes, make up the A-Squad and remain the envy of the entire school. Kansas (Mena Suvari) is the rebel, Hannah is a prude, Lucy is a nerd, Cleo is a nymphomaniac, obsessed with Conan O'Brien, and Diane (Marley Shelton) is their leader who falls in love with the star quarterback, Jack (James Marsden).

Diane and Jack become the love interest of the film, but find themselves in a blissful dilemma when Diane becomes pregnant and is left feeling alone. Because of their love and concern for her, Diane's friends resort to criminal antics in order to lend a hand.

To support Diane and her baby, the five rob a bank. The scene plays obvious homage to films like Reservoir Dogs and Heat, yet it's more shameful than respectful. The unfolding of the scene would make Tarantino and Scorcese squirm in their director's chairs.

Does Sugar and Spice get better at any point? The answer is no. The events before and after the heist are boring and typical of Hollywood's need to give its audience nothing they haven't seen before.

The film's appeal, as a fun cheerleading movie with a twist, is quickly lost. The script is often weak and the acting dreadful. Even the cinematography and editing is poor enough to make the overall product feel like a series of scenes and not a collective whole. It's doubtful this director will ever work in Hollywood again. Even the soundtrack is enough to make a teenage girl cringe.

To its merit, the film has a certain superficiality that seems intended, making it an obvious spoof on mass consumerism, stereotypes and the effects of popular culture on today's youth.

However, not even the performances by Suvari and Marsden – two of today's leading young actors – are enough to emphasize this theme, leaving their characters seeming cardboard-like. The only humourous part of the film is the ongoing obsession Cleo has for Conan O'Brien (for example, her underwear has his face on it).

If Conan had been smart, he would have stayed well away from this project, and you would be well advised to do the same.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000