Last week, I completed one of the most gruelling assignments of my journalistic career.
Gruelling because it tested me physically, mentally and, at times, spiritually. Gruelling because it tested the boundaries of good taste and good sense.
And gruelling because no-one had actually asked me to do it, so when I found myself lying awake at 3am, haunted by the things I had seen, I had no-one to blame but myself.
Yes, dear friends, I put my body (and sanity) on the line and watched all five (YES THERE ARE FIVE!!) sequels to the 2000 cult classic, Bring It On.
I'm definitely not the only person who, as tween in the year 2000, watched the movie starring Kirsten Dunst and Eliza Dushku way more times than was healthy for a young, developing and impressionable mind.
(I might have been the only person, though, who choreographed rollerblading routines in my driveway to the movie's soundtrack. It was the year 2000, after all).
So it's safe to say I was pleasantly surprised to find that Netflix had added the entire catalogue of Bring It On sequels to their library.
Note: all five sequels are available to stream on US Netflix, but only two are currently on offer in Australia. They are all, however, available to rent on iTunes. Lucky you.
And now, after almost EIGHT HOURS of viewing, I find myself completely qualified to bring you the definitive ranking of the sequels, in order from worst to best. Or, rather, from worst to still-bad-but-good-mindless-viewing-for-when-you-have-awful-period-cramps.
(I'm also a sudden expert on all sorts of weird and wonderful cheerleading terms, a skill which came in handy during a trivia match last week but which I am very likely to never, ever use again),
And, in case you're wondering... no, none of the sequels have a) any relation to the original or b) star any of the original cast.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
5. Bring It On: Worldwide... aka the one you probably shouldn't bother with.
Okay, so when I so gallantly declared that I had watched "all five Bring It On sequels" I maybe, possibly meant "I've watched four-and-a-quarter of them".
Because Bring It On: Worldwide, the most recent sequel that was released last year, is physically impossible to sit through for more than 15 minutes.
I'm not sure if it was because it was the last one I attempted to watch and my brain was just SO DONE with cheerleading drama.
Or if it was because the phrase "in the real world, we handle our battles on social media, so get ready to use all your data" was a sentence someone actually thought was a good idea to include in a film.
If you had just 95 minutes to live, I would highly recommend not wasting it on this "cheer-diculous" flick unless for posterity, you really need to see them all.
4. Bring It On: In it To Win It... aka the one that has an eerily similar plot to West Side Story.
Have you ever seen West Side Story, the tale of two rival gangs who battle it out on the streets of West Side Story with a hint of Rome and Juliet action?
Well, this 2007 sequel is just like that only... with cheerleading. And, for some reason, rollercoasters.
The West Coast Sharks and the East Coast Jets are two rival cheerleading squads from opposite sides of the country, who for some reason that I still can't completely put my finger on (something about a cheerleading curse, I think?) must combine their powers to defeat a common enemy.
There's a love triangle, a character who inexplicably develops the strongest New Jersey accent I've ever heard, and the hilarious moment the two teams decide their only option is to name their newly combined squad 'The Shets', which makes absolutely zero sense and is definitely not a real world.
(Fun bonus fact: the movie also stars Pretty Little Liars' Ashley Benson and the older sister of Ashley Tisdale, Jennifer.)
Two out of ten production value. Seven out of ten for LOLs.
3. Bring It On: All or Nothing... aka the one that stars Beyoncé's sister.
It's worth noting that I originally intended to watch all of the sequels in order of their release, until my roommate suggested I watch "the best one" first.
This, dear friends, the 2006 sequel starring Hayden Panettiere (of Nashville fame) and Beyoncé's younger sister Solange Knowles, is the one she heralded as the "best sequel of all time".
(Since I know she'll be reading this, what my roommate actually said while passing me a block of chocolate was "this one is the least sh*t". But, that's neither here nor there.)
In terms of storyline, All or Nothing is truly... tragic. There's a promise of never cheerleading again after a team captain changes schools (something that would make you a "cheer whore," apparently).
There's a lesson in crumping that I'm pretty sure was inspired by this terrible video.
There's also a bizarre cameo by Rihanna who was surely the director's second choice to appear in the film after Beyoncé considering HER SISTER IS IN THE MOVIE.
It's all pretty uncomfortable to watch (honestly, even Rihanna looks freaked out by the whole thing) but hey, anything starring Solange gets my vote.
2. Bring It On Again... aka the first one.
Four years after Torrence and her Toros came second to the East Compton Clovers at the national cheerleading championships, cheerleading tragic Wittier (played by by Anne Judson-Yager, who has hardly starred in a single movie since) heads to California State College to join the prestigious varsity cheerleading team.
Things, as you have probably already guessed, don't quite work out and soon, Wittier and her bestie Monica are training up a bunch of college misfits to become world-class cheerleaders.
It's arguably the most dated of the films (yes, even a film set four years prior seems more modern) and involves a truly cringe-worthy scene in which a college misfit attempts to swim in baggy boxer shorts, but it has a few laugh-out-loud moments in the vein of those we know and love from the original.
Plus Wittier (which, side note, I'm pretty sure is not a real name...) is kind of a bad-ass and I'm all about a girl who's not afraid to speak her mind. Oh, and it also stars that one girl from One Tree Hill, which is bound to up the nostalgia factor.
1. Bring It On: Fight to the Finish... aka the best of the worst.
We've made it. You've stuck it out through four sequels and you're ready to be rewarded with... well, with this film that stars AM to PM singer Christina Milian as tough-talking Lina Cruz.
When Lina, from East Los Angeles, is forced to move to ritzy Malibu when her mother marries a wealthy man, she must contend with The Jaguars, a cheerleading squad led by mean girl Avery who just happens to be the sister of the object of Lina's affection. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And so begins the age-old story of two rival squads competing for something, with one squad determined to "shake things up" with some TOTALLY OUT THERE moves (this time, it's salsa! Exciting stuff.).
After hours of watching the same old flips and jumps, Fight to the Finish brought me some much needed relief thanks to it's hip-hop infused dance breaks (no crumping involved, thank goodness).
Plus, the love interest in this film is by far the pick of the sequels (sorry, guys) and it also inspired a great "noughties hits" Spotify playlist the next day.
If you find yourself in need of something to fill in a spare eight hours this weekend, I recommend... actually, I really can't condone spending precious time watching any of these movies.
Perhaps just watch the original on repeat.
Or head outside for a walk instead.
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