TV movie warns: Don't mess with Texas cheerleaders

Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:40am EDT
 
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By Barry Garron

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The setting is a modern Texas high school, but the story immediately resembles a good old-fashioned Texas Western.

In the Lifetime TV movie "Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal," which premieres Saturday, a group of scofflaws is making life miserable for everyone. This gang of five breaks the law with impunity and intimidates anyone who dares to get in their way. Then a new authority comes to town, someone idealistic and determined to clean things up once and for all. Pretty soon, it's going to be time for a showdown.

In this case, the Fab Five are cheerleaders, one of whom is the daughter of the principal (Tatum O'Neal in a straitjacket of a role). They call the shots on the squad and in the classrooms. Most teachers just go along, but not Emma (Jenna Dewan), the new cheerleading coach. She is intent on restoring law and order to Jackson High.

Actually, this movie would have been more exciting if it had been more like a typical Western and built up to the inevitable but suspenseful shootout. Instead, "Fab Five" more or less follows the real-life story of a bunch of cheerleaders gone wild, taking viewers on a bumpy road of mini-wins, mini-losses and miniskirts until, finally, Emma achieves a mini-victory. By that time, you're so eager to see this end, you'll take whatever ending writer Teena Booth dishes out, even if it's not entirely satisfying.

Dewan is fine as the ever-hopeful new teacher, though the character would be more at home in a Disney Channel musical. More fun are the five bratty cheerleaders and particular their leader, Brooke, played with villainous enthusiasm by Ashley Benson.

If you're looking for an exploration of high school cliques and an understanding of underlying group dynamics, you won't find it here. On the other hand, if you're cruising up and down the dial in search of a vacant mental parking space, you couldn't ask for a more helpful movie. (Bonus for guys who gallantly agree to sit through it: there are countless scenes of cheerleaders in action.)

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

 
<p>Actress Jenna Dewan poses as she arrives as a guest at the premiere of the film "Stop-Loss" in Hollywood, California March 17, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>