Sugar & Spice

on January 26, 2001 by Paul Clinton
   Pert, cloying cheerleaders rob a bank in "Sugar & Spice," a badly executed black comedy for the teen set. "Heathers" it's not.

   After reaching the conclusion that "money makes your dreams come true," newly-pregnant Diane (Marley Shelton) ropes her fellow pep squaders into a plan to rip off a bank (located inside a supermarket) to help her pay for her new life with doofus football star Jack (James Marsden). Diane orchestrates the robbery abetted by bad-girl Kansas (Mena Suvari, "American Beauty"), wholesome Hannah (Rachel Blanchard) and Cleo (Melissa George), a brunette obsessed with late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien. Inspired by, of all things, the 1991 Keanu Reeves actioner "Point Break," the cheerleaders don Bouffant Betty masks and American-flag capes, using white flower boxes for their automatic rifles--an element Kubrick used in "The Killing."

   With all the mock-Americana, including a wayward cheerleader who wears a Nixon mask, Francine McDougall loads the movie with off-handed parody. But the material doesn't have enough sardonic bite to hit home, though Mandy Nelson's script has enough funny throwaway lines to give the movie some wit, with her quirky supporting characters providing some of the best comedy (including Sean Young in a cameo as Suvari's imprisoned mom).

   Suvari, in a microscopic role, barely registers. Shelton lays on smiley-faced charm with a trowel. As the B-squad girl who turns her cheerleader friends to blackmail her way onto the team, Marla Sokoloff gives the movie some texture.    Starring Marley Shelton, James Marsden, Mena Suvari and Marla Sokoloff. Directed by Francine McDougall. Written by Mandy Nelson. Produced by Wendy Finerman. A New Line release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language, sex-related humor and some thematic elements. Running time: 81 min.

Tags: Starring Marley Shelton, James Marsden, Mena Suvari, Marla Sokoloff. Directed by Francine McDougall, Written by Mandy Nelson, Produced by Wendy Finerman, New Line, Comedy

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