Missy Peregrym & Jeff Bridges in a scene from Stick It!

Spoiler Alert! This post contains information and plot details about the movie, Stick It!
Let me start by saying that my expectations going in to the film were low. Very low. But being the true gymnastics fan that I am I dragged my husband to opening night last Friday and worried that I would never live it down. The reviews weren’t stellar and let’s face it – “tween” movies can be so bad. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the theatre was packed. True, it was packed primarily with girls aged 8-15 but still not a bad sign. As the previews winded down, I found myself giddy with excitement. This was it! The movie that the gymnastics world has flipped for (pun intended) over the last couple years. The movie that made it onto the cover of International Gymnast was finally here. And, surprisingly, I liked it. I really did. And even more amazing, my husband liked it. If that’s not a recommendation to see the film, I don’t know what is.

Here are my top ten thoughts on the movie, in no particular order…

  1. It was funny! I laughed out loud several times. In particular the boys cracked me up. My husband and I have been quoting the movie since we left the theater. Not the overdone ones like the “gym-nice-stics” quote but ones like “when is it bad to be whipped? Ever?” I really thought that the comedy effort would fall flat but it had a slightly Napolean Dynamite flair to it. Not bad.
  2. The movie put a new spin on the typical gymnastics footage. I will admit that I was at first a bit disappointed by the lack of true gymnastics sequences. I was expecting something more like American Anthem, which despite what any movie critic says, was an incredible movie! American Anthem, which I own, of course, showed gymnastics footage much like a televised gymnastics meet. Not so with Stick It! but what writer/producer Jessica Bendinger did with the gymnastics footage was so unique. I think that it made the movie much more interesting to watch for those viewers who are not die hard gymnastics fans. My husband thought it was very cool, with bit of a Run, Lola, Run aura about it. Fascinating.
  3. Many folks are touting this movie as one that sheds light on the life of elite gymnasts. I did not find this to be the case. The gym (Vickerman Gymnastics Academy) was sterile and lifeless. The only gymnasts you ever saw were the elite athletes. Gyms don’t make any money off the elite gymnasts. The money comes from the rec classes. Where was everybody else? And the practice sessions didn’t seem realistic. Elite practice can be brutal. Besides that nasty crash from the Beam (seriously, what in the world was that gal doing? A front aerial? Tucked? Half straddled?), the viewers rarely got a glimpse of what an elite gymnastics practice is like. Bits and pieces were there but as a whole, I don’t think it was as enlightening as it was advertised to be.
  4. While the fake phone talking was brilliant (how funny were Mina and Wei Wei?), who on earth would do a round-off double back off the beam in street clothes and shoes? Honestly. A pair of loose Airwalks? And after two years off? I don’t think so.
  5. I liked Jeff Bridges’ character as the head coach but I’m not sure what Bendinger was going for with him being money-hungry. It made me unsure of his integrity. I think that she was showing that he was only human but I don’t know if it worked. Still, I liked him.
  6. It was interesting to see some themes that have actually played out in real life. Aka – Shannon Miller walking out of the World Championships in 1994. Aka – Bela Karolyi’s athletes (think Hillary Grivich at the 1992 US Olympic Trials) being unfairly judged due to the fact that he was their coach.
  7. Though the actresses had incredible stunt doubles (you could hardly tell the difference between Missy Peregrym and Isabelle Severino), you could still tell that most were not true gymnasts by their salutes. I could see a distinct difference between the salute of Peregrym and that of Maddy Curley, who is a former gymnast. It’s all in the salute.
  8. The VGA competition leotards missed the mark. What was up with those random leos? I could probably get on board with the patterns (I’m sure we’ll see some that are similar at US Nationals this summer) but the cuts were outdated. I wore a leotard with that cut in 1987. Seriously.
  9. Although I am no longer a coach and I’ve never owned a gym, I know that the instructor at my safety certification course a few years ago would have a stroke if she knew that Haley Graham was working out all by herself with no coach! Does USAG Safety Certification mean anything anymore?
  10. I know that Missy Peregrym worked her tail off to get into gymnastics shape for this movie but there was one thing that she really needed to do to look the part of a gymnast. Shrink. She’s almost 5’8″! Even Svetlana Khorkina doesn’t come close to that. But that was really the only part that wasn’t believable about her. I am so impressed with all the work she and Vanessa Lengies did to get into gymnastics shape for their roles. Well done.

So there you have it. I liked Stick It! For a tween gymnastics comedy/satire I give it an B+. What did you think? Do you agree? Post your thoughts in the comment section.

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