- Christianity Today Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2006 1 Jan
Spelling not active enough for you? Try gymnastics! This week's other film about competitive kids, Stick It, lacks Akeelah's family-friendly rating, but it does have the next best thing: A real-life Christian in its cast!
When Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym), a teenage dirt-bike daredevil, crashes through an expensive pane of glass, a judge sentences her to do hard time … in a local gymnastics school. Her reputation precedes her, and, naturally, participating in a competitive gymnastics team isn't quite her idea of a good time. Still, no-nonsense coach Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges) convinces her to compete, and together they attempt to vault to the top of the pack.
Their feats aren't impressive to Christian critics, though. David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says: "The film's targeted young female viewers may respond to its hip vibe, music-video look and amped-up soundtrack while overlooking both its ridiculously implausible ending and a plot as thin as the sport's balance beam."
Bob Hoose (Plugged In) finds the film to be inferior not just artistically, but morally as well: "Haley starts out as what Coach Vickerman calls a 'rebel without applause.' But with time she actually rallies the whole squad to her side as they break gymnastic rules and rebel against authority. We're repeatedly reminded that the authority in question (self-focused parents and hard-hearted judges) are deserving of what's coming, but that doesn't soften the blow Haley's routine delivers. Holding this revolt up as heroic, and having Coach Vickerman (the only adult developed beyond one-and-a-half dimensions) support the choice, only serves to bolster the unfortunate Hollywood chestnut that adults are dumb, rules are for breaking and disobedience is not only fun but it is the only sure path to improvement or enlightenment."
Michael Karonous (Christian Spotlight) has similar concerns: "Since the movie doesn't show a single positive relationship with a mother and a daughter, its message in that regard is that the gang is the family and the family is the gang. Reject authority; break rules; do what you want, because the only one who understands you is other teenagers. It's a childish message, it doesn't do the athletes justice, and it completely undermines the biblical injunction to 'Honor your father and mother.'"
Mainstream critics find the film to be a convoluted mess.