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Pep Squad Gone Bad

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Sugar and Spice (PG-13)
New Line Cinema

As our advertisers well know, the average Indy reader is thirtysomething, professional, more likely married than not. Therefore, it is unlikely that many Indy readers will voluntarily go see Sugar and Spice, a new flick about a pregnant cheerleader who, with her "A" squad, turns to bank robbery to support her soon-to-arrive offspring. If, however, you are either 14 years old, or you know someone who is, Sugar and Spice is a funny little movie that won't hurt you one little bit.

If you're actually old enough to remember the 80s, you'll remember "Little ditty bout Jack and Diane/ two American kids living in the heartland."

Taking off from that John Cougar Mellencamp song, Sugar and Spice follows the fate of Diane (Marley Shelton), an "A" squad cheerleader who falls in love with Jack (James Marsden), the star quarterback of the high school team. When Diane becomes pregnant with twins and their parents disown the couple, Jack and Diane are stuck trying to make their way alone. Alone, that is, along with the help of the other girls of the "A" squad, including the smart girl, the bad girl, the really really Christian girl, and the ditzy girl.

The "A" squad, led by chirpy Diane, soon decides that the only way they're going to come up with enough money is to rob a bank, which skill they're going to learn by watching old bank robbing movies. What follows is an amusing hour or so of caper, cheerleading style.

While I can hardly recommend that you run down to the cineplex to see this film, I have to confess to enjoying the whole thing. Most of the credit should probably go to novice writer Mandy Nelson, who balances the nasty and nice, the goofy and gleeful very well. Because most of the characters are deliberate stereotypes, there isn't much to be said about the acting -- it is quite passable -- and I really enjoyed the serious acrobatics of the cheerleaders.

There are enough references to the 80s to keep the thirtysomethings entertained while they accompany their nieces to this movie, so don't despair if you're tapped for the job. Sugar and spice and a little larceny, that's what decent movies are made of.

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