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Like most sports movies, Stick It has a message. Several, actually, though the one writer-director Jessica Bendinger conveys best is this: Unless they’re equipped with loads of sass-back and a pile of band T-shirts that announce their hardcoreness, female gymnasts are really, really stupid. When trouble-seeking Haley (Missy Peregrym)—apparently a fan of Bad Brains, Motörhead, and Black Flag—is charged with property damage while X-treme biking with the boys, the judge gives her the choice of attending military school or the mysterious “VGA.” Haley decides on military school, but then that crazy judge orders her to go to VGA instead. Turns out it’s Vickerman Gymnastics Academy, a Houston training center she has some history with, though all of her former friends hate her for inexplicably walking out of a big competition. You can guess what happens after she announces her re-enrollment by kicking down the school’s door: The other girls, including lead snob Joanne (Vanessa Lengies), snub her; her old coach, Burt (Jeff Bridges), gives her ’tude to get rid of her ’tude; and everything’s jolly in the end. Bendinger, who also wrote the much better Bring It On, gives the actresses some cringe-inducing lines, including “I’m so sure, I’m practically deodorant” and “Don’t worry—my head’s up my butt, too.” Haley’s toughness, if it must be pointed out, is so over the top that you’ll dislike her even before you find out why her classmates do. And those poor, poor kids: Joanne thinks “GED” means “DUI” and throws out malaprops such as “cardiovasectomy,” while one of the only other featured gymnasts, Wei Wei (Nikki SooHoo), simply looks confused a lot. Bendinger does pull off some nice visuals, at least. At a competition, she melds all of the girls’ performances on the uneven bars into one colorful swirl and has the gymnasts perform a flurry of flips across a department store in poofy prom dresses. (The single tear falling from Haley’s eye during a handstand on the balance beam, though—ugh.) Along the way, Stick It makes a couple of righteous statements about money-grubbing coaches and arbitrarily scored competitions, as well as more celebratory ones about the importance of teamwork and excellence in athletics. Olympic gold medalist Carly Patterson adds some of the latter, but don’t be fooled: Stick It is an exercise in mediocrity. —Tricia Olszewski