Sugar & Spice

Sugar & Spice (2001)
New Line Home Entertainment
Cast: Mena Suvari, James Marsden, Marley Shelton
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailerm, Cast & Crew Biographies

It seemed very odd when two films concerning high school cheerleaders, ’Bring it On’ and ’Sugar & Spice’, were released theatrically six months apart, as this isn’t a genre which has been explored much in the past. ’Bring it On’ is a fairly straightforward film about a group of plucky cheerleaders trying to win a competition. In stark contrast, ’Sugar & Spice’ is a truly bizarre film, in which a group of cheerleaders use their skills to rob a bank. The film tells the story of the cheerleaders of Lincoln High, led by captain Diane Weston (Marley Shelton). Diane meets new quarterback Jack Bartlett and the two fall in love. The first 15 minutes of the film is pretty ordinary, but then things get screwy when Jack and Diane decide to get married. Their parents disown them and they are forced to fend for themselves. Jack works at Video Update (formerly known as Moovies!) and Diane works at a bank (which is located in a supermarket). Realizing that they can’t make ends meet, Diane recruits her cheerleader squad to help her rob the bank.

While the bank-robbery was featured prominently in the trailer campaign for ’Sugar & Spice,’ it comes late in the only 78-minute long film, and is almost anti-climactic. The bulk of the movie focuses on Jack and Diane’s problems, and her energetic determination to set things right. There is also a subplot concerning jealous B-squad cheerleader Lisa (Marla Sokoloff) (Notice that Lisa always wears green.) While the theatrical trailer and TV spots let you know that ’Sugar & Spice’ was about cheerleaders and crime, there was one major plot-point, which wasn’t revealed (and I won’t reveal it either), that was very shocking, and really sent the movie in a new direction. Director Francine McDougall and writer Mandy Nelson have teamed up to make a film that may be a bit too quirky for its own good. There are some funny lines and situations in ’Sugar & Spice’ and while the characters are exaggerations, some of their traits ring very true. But, at times, the film plays like ’Bring it On in Hell’, as the girls get involved in stranger and stranger things. McDougall does give the film a very nice look and creates some very memorable shots.

New Line Home Entertainment brings us the DVD of ’Sugar & Spice’ which measures up to New Line reputation. As expected, the movie looks great. It has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. This transfer is gorgeous, offering great colors and a very sharp image. For an example of the color scheme, simply go to the 0:13:00 mark, where the shot offers both natural and pastel colors, with both looking very realistic and sharp. The image shows only subtle grain at times, and no noise or distortion. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix is impressive as well. The dialogue is clear and the constant guitar rock heard in the film sounds great. There is consistently impressive use of the rear speakers and a nice utilization of the subwoofer as well.

Sadly, this DVD doesn’t have many extras. There are four deleted and extended scenes, with dialogue or situations that would have presumably earned the film an R-rating. Fans of cheerleader films and crime movies should check out ’Sugar & Spice’, but be warned, this ride is bumpy at times.