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[whitespace] 'Sugar & Spice'
Take Me to Your Cheerleaders: The high school girls of 'Sugar & Spice' vow to make money the old-fashioned way: by stealing it.

Cheerless Leaders

'Sugar & Spice' robs banks and viewers

By Richard von Busack

NEITHER SWEET NOR SPICY, Sugar & Spice, a filmed-in-Minneapolis cheerleader picture, compares poorly to Bring It On, which is due out on video shortly. Marley Shelton, who looks so much like Heather Graham you have to blink, plays Diane, a head cheerleader who gets impregnated by the quarterback (James Marsden, Cyclops in The X-Men); when times are hard for the couple, Diane's fellow cheerleaders plan a bank robbery to raise money for them and the incoming baby.

The robbers plan the heist wearing "Betty" masks (it was probably Barbie before the lawyers vetted the script). Sadly, the robbery isn't staged any better than the rest of this low-cost and slow-paced movie. A few highlights include the girls' distracted viewing of Point Break as an instructional tool ("Real cops aren't half as smart as Keanu!" one girl sighs) and the newly pregnant Diane's reverent, teary-eyed reciting of the lyrics to "Papa Don't Preach." During the end credits, I found out, to my shock, that this supposed feminist Madonna hit was written by a man named Brian Elliot. I think this guy owes the world a little child support, don't you? (The soundtrack, assembled by Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, features a well-chosen assortment of new versions of punk-rock hits, though I doubt if America's cheerleaders are pyramiding to "Public Image" by PIL.)

Mena Suvari of American Beauty plays (indifferently) the team's bad girl, named Kansas. Her incarcerated mother is played by Sean Young, a great beauty of the 1980s best remembered for Blade Runner. In the '90s, Young was reduced to miserably stooging for Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. It's good to have her back; she plays the minor part forcefully and convincingly. Director Francine McDougall is best known for a short "The Date," about a teenaged girl's unforgivable fart--wish this movie had similar quickness and humor.

Sugar & Spice (PG-13; 93 min.), directed by Francine McDougall, written by Mandy Nelson, photographed by Robert Brinkman and starring Marley Shelton, James Marsden and Mena Suvari, plays at selected theaters valleywide.

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From the February 1-7, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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