[box cover]

Sugar and Spice

Like two kids from the heartland, Football star Jack (X-Men's James Marsden) and cheerleader Diane (Marley Shelton) make the perfect high school couple, but when Diane gets pregnant the two are shunned by their families and are forced to face some hard knocks — like working crap jobs to pay the rent. And though their love is true and Jack is honest to a fault, they have no money, making Diane hard-pressed to care for their needs. Her solution? Rob a bank with her fellow cheerleading squad members. But since the religious Hannah (Rachel Blanchard), troublemaker Kansas (Mena Survani), smarty-pants Lucy (Sara Marsch), Conan O'Brien-obsessed Cleo (Melissa George), and Diane have no bank-robbing experience, they watch all the heist films they can and consult with Kansas' jailed mother (Sean Young) to pull it off. Unfortunately one of the witnesses to their robbery is the jealous Lisa (Marla Sokolov), an axe-grinding second-string cheerleader who makes it difficult for the squad to get away with it (and tells the story to the police). 2001's Sugar and Spice had little chance at the box office — it looked too similar to 2000's Bring It On with a Pulp Fiction premise. But it is more than the sum of those parts, and if it isn't entirely successful, it does offer a look at some promising future talents. Director Francine McDougall has a good sense of widescreen framing, and she gets good, non-ironic performances from her leads, never allowing the main characters to become the targets of parody (usually the main problem with black-comic teen films.) Marsden delivers a solid performance as the lovable yet vacuous Jack, while the cheerleaders are fun to watch, even if their quirks nearly substitute for character development. Sugar and Spice is engaging, and though never laugh out loud funny, there are enough chuckles to hold one's attention. Nonetheless, at it's 84-minute length the film still loses most of its steam in the last act and lacks a sense of resolution. This may have been the results of re-editing, but New Line's disc offers little clues to what happened, as the disc — surprisingly for a New Line release — offers few supplements. Sharp anamorphic widescreen transfer (2.35:1) or pan-and-scan (1.33:1), with audio in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround. Extras include two deleted scenes and two extended scenes (one sequence is practically the same save for an eliminated "Squishy" comment, excised to get a lower rating), the trailer, and cast and crew bios. Snap-case.
—DSH



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