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CHEERLEADER NINJAS

2002, dir. Kevin Campbell
91 min. Rated R.
Starring: Kira Reed, Shawna Basick, Angela Brubaker, Jared Brubaker.

Review by Noel Wood

I used to despise Ninjas. But that's before I discovered CHEERLEADER NINJAS. Yes, there really is a film out there entitled CHEERLEADER NINJAS. And even more amazing than that is the fact that it's actually pretty damn funny.

I'd never even heard of this movie when a friend of mine just happened to order it through OnDemand Pay-Per-View in a spur-of-the-moment decision, and I was quick to find out why. With barely any budget at all and nobody you've probably ever heard of unless you went to high school with them, CHEERLEADER NINJAS is not exactly high-profile stuff. But it certainly beats the socks off of a lot of other films in its genre that actually see a wide release.

CHEERLEADER NINJAS is essentially a satire of 80's teen sex flicks, but done in such an over-the-top fashion that it actually takes a life of its own. It's also got the finest aspects of some of the best things Troma ever did laced in with that satire. And with blatant continuity errors and in-jokes, the film doesn't take itself seriously for one moment, but puts everything together in a way that is bound to keep you laughing.

Basically, it goes like this: The Happy Valley Hamster cheerleaders are the most popular girls in school. They're worshipped by the Nerd squad, who organize auctions for their used underwear and don't know how to contain themselves around living, breathing members of the opposite sex. However, the cheerleaders rejected a potential male squad member named Stephen at last year's tryouts (marked in a flashback sequence by a marquee with the words "last year's tryouts") in favor of the much-cuter Todd, and now he's decided to extract revenge. Stephen, who is the most over-the-top gay charicature in history and looks too old to have children who are in high school much less be near the age himself, now teaches Catholic reform school girls that cheerleaders are bad people and plans to lead his gang into battle. On top of that, there's also a scary-looking mother superior lesbian chick who wants to put an end to internet porn and needs to enlist the help of brainwashed computer geeks to help her wipe it out.

In other words, there's almost too much story for a movie that most people are going in to for a chuckle and maybe some T&A. But not to worry -- there's plenty of that here as well. Along the way, we get plenty of cheesy action sequences, generally involving battles between the cheerleader squad and the catholic school girls, complete with the worst MATRIX-like special effects imaginable...using blow-up dolls as stunt doubles. The nerd squad also gets plenty of screen time, as we get more than our fair share of footage of them in their computer lab. They speak in Star Trek lingo and do bad Shatner imitations (although they appear to be a paradox, surrounding themselves with both Trek and STAR WARS paraphernalia) and videotape any incident that has the potential to expose cheerleader flesh.

Of course, flesh does get exposed, with the majority of it belonging to skin flick queen Kira Reed, who plays a "fantasy girl" that is the object of one nerd's masturbatory dreams. The cheerleaders and the catholic school girls also get naked...well, sort of. There are only two body doubles that serve as the surrogate breasts for anyone who has their top ripped off, and they don't exactly try to hide that fact. The movie itself isn't exactly in the realm of soft-porn as one might think going in, but it does supply its fair share of T&A for those looking for that sort of thing.

There are some clever bits in the film that worked well. There's a battle sequence waged between two Power-Ranger-esque "MegaZords", who wage war amongst a cardboard skyline and toy planes on strings utilizing everything from farts to sex toys as weapons. During a chase scene, the cheerleaders first run through a sprinkler system and then commence the chase on pogo sticks, which is presented in slow motion. Oh, there are titles ahead of time to prepare you for it too. Outlandish scenarios such as this stand out as highlights in the film. On top of that, the movie isn't afraid to let you know it's got no budget. Hell, there's even a title stating as much before a scene shifts to black and white stock footage of things going boom to represent an explosion of a different kind. The movie doesn't pretend for one minute that it's something it's not, and that's why the whole thing works.

Plus, it's consistent. The tone of the film is simply ridiculous from start to finish. Even when the film goes into certain subplot elements that might otherwise drag out, the goofiness factor keeps it afloat. The folks responsible for CHEERLEADER NINJAS, in fact, are probably better off working in their element: no budget, unknown stars, and plenty of imagination to compensate for it all.

Not every joke hits the mark, and the film could have stood to have a good 20 minutes shaved from its length. Scenes like the MegaZord battle worked well at first but were stretched a bit too far. I understand why they resorted to flatulence humor in the quantity that they did, but that doesn't change the fact that the joke may have worn out its welcome. There was probably a plot arc or two that could also have been omitted from the final product without harming the story much. But for what it was, CHEERLEADER NINJAS was consistently entertaining. It's basically the film that WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER wished it could be, and it succeeds at that without the aid of viable box office stars.

You can probably catch this film on Pay-Per-View, or you can order a copy of the DVD from their website. While you're there, make sure you check out the video clips of some of the most outrageous scenes in the film.

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All Material Copyright 1998-2006 Movie Criticism for the Retarded.

For questions, comments, or the occasional stalking letter, send mail to Noel Wood. Please give proper credit when using any materials found within this site.


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