Let’s be clear about one thing, although I’m glad I went to film school, some of the time the stuff we screened into class fell into this weird middle ground. It was like “good but oh my God, I’d rather play Russian roulette with Christopher Walken than watch this again.” Sure, it’s not your average Netflix category, but I’m sure most people have watched at least one or two of those movies in their lifetime. So imagine a lifetime’s worth jam packed into a 4 year (3 1/2 year since I finished early like an idiot) undergraduate program. It’s honestly enough to turn you off movies for a little while, but the allure of bitching and nameless, faceless people on the internet reading me sucked me back in. It was then that I decided “hey, it’s my site, why don’t I write about movies that I actually like? Now I’m not claiming most of them are Oscar winners, because let’s face it, at this point in time, I’m all about the frivolous.
Take for example, Sugar & Spice, a movie that once again navigates the hallways of high school and popularity politics. It follows the cheerleading squad whose captain gets pregnant and is forced to rob a bank in order to provide for her baby when her family cuts her off. It’s easy to interpret it as some profound statement on “our troubled economic times” or “the real meaning of family” and in certain parts, it does. But it never loses focus of the fact that it’s just another one of those teen comedies they churn out year after year. No, it’s not woefully “indie” like Juno or anything so fans of Diablo Cody might do best to steer clear, but instead, it panders. But here’s the great thing about it, it seems pretty self-aware of the fact that it’s pandering. I mean, honestly, can any screenwriter write the line “…he was a bar of chocolate and the whole school was on the rag – everybody wanted a piece” and expect to be taken seriously? And is not wanting to be taken seriously really such an egregious offense? Where were the calls for realism when Avatar broke box office records?
Now I’m not claiming Sugar & Spice is as visually groundbreaking as Avatar (although no matter how sad it may be, I like the story of Sugar & Spice better) but let’s take a look at criteria of most movies. Sure, there are some that inspire in-depth looks at the social order or crimes against humanity. Then there’s the rest. The impressive thing about Sugar & Spice is that it never tries to be anything but fluff or tries to rise above the rest. It’s just there for mindless entertainment and a few laughs. Sure, there are those moments were social mores are plugged in as haplessly as product placement for Pepsi, but moments like this are few and far between and more a result of the paranoia of a post-Columbine Hollywood than anything else.
At heart of Sugar & Spice is a combination of stupid humor and actual insight a la Heathers. While few would call it a “film”, it’s most certainly an entertaining “movie”. It’s good for some laughs in the same way that Bring It On is (another thoroughly enjoyable painfully stupid movie) but offers up a little darker material than the average teen dream pastel color palette. In the end, it may not be the most memorable movie (To be completely honest, Netflix had to recommend it to me before I remembered it.) but it’s a nice return to escapism when even the teen movies, at least what remains, are loaded with pre-packaged sentimentality and schmaltz.