The unexpected cult status of Peyton Reed’s “Bring It On.”

The unexpected cult status of Peyton Reed’s “Bring It On.” (photo)

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The New Beverly in Los Angeles is hosting a tenth anniversary midnight screening of “Bring It On,” this weekend. By virtue of being better than it needs to be, “Bring It On” is one of the few studio teen films of the last decade to earned non-studio-manufactured goodwill, a small cult of genuine affection.

Part of that has to do with its relatively sharp craft, and part has to do with director Peyton Reed, who was, for a while, a rising young auteur and whose career might, at any moment, resurge unexpectedly.

Reed’s directed music videos (he did three for Superchunk) as well as a few episodes of “Mr. Show” and all (!) of “The Weird Al Show.” “Bring It On” was his feature debut, one of those “most pleasant surprise of summer” type movies.

While Reed won’t be making it to the screening, he did do an interview with Aint It Cool News talking about “Bring It On”‘s nervous conception. The main question, he reveals, was thinking about how to push the sexual aspects while keeping a PG-13 rating: “You cannot separate sexuality from cheerleading,” he notes. “It is inherently what it is – growing up with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and all of that stuff. But it’s kind of a dangerous thing to do when you’re making a studio, PG-13 movie and trying to push the sexuality.”

07152010_downwithlove.jpgDespite this, he and editor Larry Bock — unpretentious veteran of “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” “Breakin'” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” — watched ’70s cheerleader exploitation movies while editing. The relatively low-budget film ($28 million) was a sleeper hit ($90 million worldwide); like “American Pie,” it spawned four increasingly shoddy direct-to-video sequels with little discernible relation to each other.

That minor success seemingly gave Reed the carte blanche to make “Down With Love,” as obsessive an homage to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedies as Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven” was to Sirk — with slightly broader sex jokes. The production design is glossy, the frame of reference specific, but both movies play like musicals without the musical numbers. If they’re too bright and shiny to be subtle, they’re bouncy enough to achieve a sort of grace.

The interview glosses over Reed’s post-“Bring It On” career, which is a shame. “The Break-Up” isn’t fun to watch, but it’s unexpectedly scabrous for what should’ve been a light summer romance. (The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody actually compared it to Sirk.)

07152010_break.jpgIn Reed’s telling, Vince Vaughn’s storytelling ambitions, Jennifer Aniston’s post-Brad Pitt angst and Reed’s own relationship woes made for a film that “can be very unpleasant to watch” but came from a place that “was very real to all of us at the time.” (The movie somehow made money anyway.)

The interview ends with the off-the-record-ish disclosure that Reed’s quitting comedy and working on vintage sci-fi. He’s obviously a cinephile and, if not turning out quite the type of films that get you deemed an auteur these days, is at least someone trying to make formulaic comedies and dramas seem fresh again.

Here’s one of Reed’s Superchunk videos (co-directed with Phil Morrison) that turns the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” mosh pit and thrashing into a more innocent pillow fight, complete with milk and cookies:

[Photos: “Bring It On,” Universal, 2000; “Down With Love,” Twentieth Century Fox, 2003; “The Break-Up,” Universal, 2006]

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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