Dear Sony Pictures,
When advertising your home video release as "unrated," please make sure the additional content warrants this distinction. A huge deal is made of the "unrated" nature of 'Fired Up,' the Will Gluck-directed cheerleading movie. The cover of the Blu-ray release has a bright red banner at the top of the box declaring it an "Unrated Edition." Underneath the title is a pull quote dubbing the release as "sexy," while the majority of the box art is taken up by a girl, leaping in the air, exposing her underpants.
Consequently, you set up potential viewers for not just an "unrated" version of 'Fired Up,' a sloppily plotted but halfway enjoyable cheerleading comedy about a pair of football jocks who enroll in cheer champ to score tons of ass, but an extremely unrated (!) version of the movie. Based on the promise of the box art, we don't expect a somewhat charming teen comedy that has an excess of innuendo but not much follow-through, but rather a wild, raunchy, son-of-'Porky's'esque sex comedy. (The cover art should also give shout-outs to brief appearances by Philip Baker Hall and Edie McClurg, and a fine supporting role by Christopher Guest mainstay John Michael Higgins.)
The implication, with that "unrated" tag, is that the disc has content that exceeds the R rating. Most people don't know that it takes a lot of money to have the MPAA rate your movie. If you put in an extra scene of a chipmunk gnawing on an acorn, and if you want to have it re-rated, it'll cost you some serious coin.
But I digress…
Some things you might expect from an unrated movie: violence so excruciating that it would make Tom Savini cringe (heads exploding, limbs being severed, geysers of blood), abundant nudity and sex, and so many curse words you almost wonder if the screenwriter knows any vocabulary words that aren't expletives.
The "unrated" version of 'Fired Up' fails to meet any of those expectations. So the "unrated" label of 'Fired Up' borders on false, misleading advertising. If you're looking for material more risqué than something you can see on basic cable, well, you're out of luck. If you want to see a dopey but not-half-bad cheerleading movie, which pales in comparison to 'Bring It On' (which is referenced in the movie), but still manages to have its own fizzy charm, then this is the movie for you.
Viewers who watch the unrated version (which runs only a minute longer than the theatrical cut), won't get much in the way of unrated content. In summary, this is a throw away movie, short on charm, that's resorting to questionable advertising in the hopes of going after viewers' cash from a different angle. If nothing else, your customers should be warned not to judge this movie by it's misleading cover.
Drew Taylor, Consumer Watchdog
The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC, 2.40:1 transfer looks really, really good. Detail comes through with a sharpness and clarity that doesn't get bogged down in technical glitches. Skin tones are natural, contrast is excellent, and for the most part, blacks are solid and deep. There is a fine amount of grain that makes it appear more film-like, which is always appreciated.
Sometimes, when the grain isn't noticeable, the movie does look a bit too sharp and plastic. The other problem is that a few scenes look washed out. This isn't the norm, as the movie is extremely bright and colorful and, for the most part, saturation is nice, and colors (like the cheerleading uniforms) really pop. But there are a couple of moments when things look pretty washed away. Still, these are minor problems and don't detract from the overall presentation grade.
Surprise! A mainstream comedy has a completely front-channel-centered mix!
As far as these kind of mixes go, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless audio does a nice job. Dialogue is always crisp and clear, without being overwhelming. The soundtrack, which features a whole host of pop songs, is very strong and clear, with a sharp bass kick coming in every once in a while. Ambience isn't huge on this mix, but it does make an appearance when appropriate, like during the skinny dipping sequence and some of the larger-group cheer sequences.
The upside to such a simplified track is that there aren't any technical issues. Everything sounds very nice and clean without every really giving your equipment a workout. But considering the type of movie this is, you probably weren't expecting to be able to compare it to 'Transformers' or something, now were you?
This edition of 'Fired Up' also comes with a Digital Copy of the film, so you can load it onto your iPod and never be too far from the crazy cheerleading hijinks! Oh boy!
If you're looking for a silly, somewhat funny cheerleading comedy (maybe while we all patiently wait for 'Bring It On' to be given the high-def treatment), then you could do worse than 'Fired Up.' I know, I know, I'm damning it with faint praise, but this has a solid AV presentation and a healthy collection of extras (with a commentary track I would actually recommend listening to). It's recommended, but with full knowledge that although the packaging goes out of its way to proclaim its unrated-ness, it's really just a tame, fun teen romp.