Missy Peregrym’s performance is the heart and soul of Stick It (2006)
Stick It follows Haley (Missy Peregrym), a rebellious teen who after a run in with the law is forced back into the world of gymnastics where she will be reluctantly coached by Burt Vickerman (Jeff Bridges).
Written and directed by Jessica Bendinger, Stick It follows a somewhat familiar plot to other gymnastics/dance/sport films of the era but stands out in part due to the lead performance from Missy Peregrym. Missy is the heart and soul of this story and brings a tonne of life and energy to every single scene. For her film debut she puts in an incredible performance and pulls off the humour and emotion of her character’s journey to a tee. Right from the outset she gets you on the side of her character with her rebellious attitude “sticking it” to her parents and various supporting characters around her. As I mentioned, her comedic attitude is on point at all times and delivers plenty of charming and funny moments throughout. But she doesn’t do it alone as her relationship with Jeff Bridges is the strongest in the story and you quickly find yourself genuinely caring about these two. Her back and forth with Bridges makes for some great scenes some of which bring the laughs and a couple bring the feels. He’s like a rock here and like Peregrym doesn’t have a bad scene.
Some of the supporting characters work really well in terms of the story and comedically whereas a couple don’t. Some of the gymnasts such as Wei Wei (Nikki SooHoo), Mina (Maddy Curley), and Joanne (Vanessa Lengies) are the better supporting roles as they’re actually quite enjoyable whenever they’re on screen. There’s some substance to their characters and there is some personality growth over time which helps. Not as much development that Haley goes through but definitely enough to form intriguing characters. The male supporting roles Frank and Poot played respectively by Kellan Lutz and John Patrick Amedori are odd or lets just say are very ‘of-the-time’. They’re Haley’s friends, the ‘cool’ skater kids who show up here and there for no reason other than to keep their goofy antics in the story. They have a moment or two that works and is just cheesy enough to where it’s funny but most of the time they’re pretty cringeworthy.
As for the way the story progresses it’s actually a genuinely fun ride mainly because of the presence of Missy Peregrym who brings a certain electricity to each of her scenes. A number of these 90’s to early 2000’s gymnastics/dance movies hit the same beats and follow a fairly straightforward three-act structure and that is no different here. It definitely goes more or less in the direction you expect but Jessica Bendinger doesn’t forget to have fun and embrace the cheesiness just enough to keep you constantly entertained. The first act is strong in getting off the ground, introducing the characters and setting up situations for later down the track. The second act is decent in that there are a couple of sequences that slow the pace down a little. But that I guess is made up by the large number of training montage sequence in here because is wouldn’t be a gymnastics movie without the montages. The third act is where Stick It shines as it’s just awesome and so gratifying in how it ties together and pays off all of the setup from the earlier acts.
In the end, Stick It is by no means a masterpiece and you aren’t going into this film expecting as such. It is a straight up fun gymnastics movie with a fantastic lead performance from Missy Peregrym and great cheesy dialogue which leaves behind plenty of quotable lines. The presence of Jeff Bridges is definitely a highlight as his acting talents elevate some of the more emotional moments shared with Missy. There is a lot of fun to be had with Stick It and would recommend if anyone is a fan of 90s/2000s gymnastics films.