‘Stick It’ – a gymnastic rebellion

Teen gymnastic competitors strike back in Stick It (2006), a sports empowerment fantasy with a twist, a double flip, and a perfect landing.

A fit and insolent Missy Peregrym plays former world class gymnast turned angry young woman Haley, who vents her aggressions through extreme sports and the attendant property damage of push-it-too-the-limits dares. Dad saves her from juvie hall by enrolling her in a gymnastics academy run by a maverick coach (Jeff Bridges) and lorded over by a bitchy rival (Vanessa Lengies) whose competitive streak is matched only by her ignorance of life outside the gymnastic world.

Writer/director Jessica Bendinger (screenwriter of the cute and brash Bring It On) breathes new life into old clichés. The former music video director celebrates the achievement of the athletes and the beauty of the movement with a fresh style and a dynamic look, and she energizes the drama with attitude, cheeky humor and youthful energy.

More importantly, she delivers a message of solidarity, strength of character, and standing up for yourself and your friends against calcified judges and competition-hungry parents, with a triumphant charge. This is a teen rebel drama with a cause: to take the sport back from the edicts of its at times arbitrary judges and redefine it as a form of self-expression and personal achievement.

Nikki SooHoo and Maddy Curley play fellow gymnasts and Kellan Lutz and John Patrick Amedori costar as Haley’s skatepunk buddies.

Rated PG-13

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Stick It [DVD]

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On DVD with commentary tracks by writer/director Jessica Bendinger, actresses Missy Peregrym and Vanessa Lengies, and the film’s cinematographer and editor, plus featurettes, deleted scenes, bloopers and outtakes, and music videos.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.

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