Directed by Will Gluck. Starring Nicholas D’Agosto, Eric Christian Olsen, Sarah Roemer, Molly Sims, Danneel Harris, David Walton, Adhir Kalyan, AnnaLynne McCord. (2009, PG-13, 94 min.)
REVIEWED By Josh Rosenblatt, Fri., Feb. 20, 2009
In the interest of upping my national profile as a writer, I hereby present my first attempt at quotable movie criticism (Sony Pictures International, feel free to reprint this on any of your posters or billboards): “If you loved Wedding Crashers, then you’ll absolutely, positively kind of like Fired Up.” OK, I admit it may lack the primal force of a “laugh-out-loud funny!” or the poetry of an “edge-of-your-seat entertainment!” but I think there’s something there. The only problem is that the sentiment isn’t completely right. What it should probably say is, “If you loved Wedding Crashers, then, for all intents and purposes, you’ve already seen Fired Up” – because this new movie borrows from the 2005 Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson hit with such utter shamelessness, you have to wonder if royalty checks are already in the mail. Here’s the recipe: Take two best friends, one laid-back and charming (D’Agosto), the other smarmy and verbose (Olsen). Show them, in extended montage sequences, to be the unrepentant, unremitting Lotharios of their social sphere (in this case, high school), bedding women with ease and moving on without a hint of conscience, remorse, or romantic sentiment. Plop them into an unfamiliar social setting they believe will be beneficial to their lives as belt-notching philanderers (say, cheerleading camp). Have the laid-back one fall in love, against his better judgment, with a beautiful and decent woman (cheer captain Roemer) who has an absurdly obnoxious and wealthy boyfriend who wears sweaters tied around his neck and calls people “bro." The smarmy one, meanwhile, should lecture the laid-back one about the dangers of falling in love while finding himself agitated by a gay stereotype or two. Stir in scatology, snarky observations, and a few dozen pop-culture references that pass for jokes; mix well with life lessons and some low-grade existential collapse; and voilà!: a movie. Actually, Fired Up isn’t really a movie at all; it’s just the residue from assembly lines churning out copies of copies of once-successful formulas in the hopes that one in 100 touches a cultural nerve. In fact, if there’s anything notable about Fired Up at all, it’s that it somehow manages to be a sex comedy that’s both sexist and prudish. It not only paints all women as hopeless dimwits just waiting to be duped into bed by the first sleazeball who comes along; it follows all their painfully awkward seduction scenes with absolutely zero nudity, robbing an entire generation of kids of the only reason to sit through movies like this in the first place. It’s the same reason why my friends and I suffered through Porky’s and Hot Dog … The Movie 20 years ago, and why underage teenagers now creeping into adulthood lied, cheated, stole, cajoled, and coerced their way into Wedding Crashers back when George W. Bush was president and the world was still young and horny.