Comedies about the maturing of arrested adolescents—or just adolescents, period—are rampant in the Judd Apatow age, but there’s a trick to doing the “likeable jerk” character right. The actors have to be charismatic enough to make their horndog-slob routines forgivable or even charming, and the script should stop well short of the line separating the comically boorish from the irredeemably smug. Like a grotesque hybrid between the straight-to-DVD American Pie and Bring It On sequels, Fired Up asks the audience to root for a skirt-chasing Seacrest-and-Dunkleman pair who operate like a hive-minded Van Wilder. Yes, they’re given some room to grow over the course of the film—and given an even douchier villain for contrast—but it’s hard to wish them the best while also wishing, at all times, for the opportunity to punch them square in their smirking little faces.
The opening scene finds our ostensible heroes, played by Nicholas D’Agosto and Eric Christian Olsen, trying to talk two naïve girls out of their underwear like those de-virginizing cretins in Kids. When the girls’ ’roided-up dads come home early, D’Agosto and Olsen hightail it through the neighborhood, only to splash right into a bikini party. That’s pretty much what life’s like for them, especially since they’re also stars on their high-school football team, which seems to give them all the action they could ever want. Faced with the prospect of sweating it out with other guys at a football training camp in El Paso, they hatch a scheme to get even more girls by attending cheerleading camp instead. The school’s head cheerleader (Sarah Roemer) stays dubious, but the other 299 girls at camp are all portrayed as open for business—at least those who aren’t lipstick lesbians.
Problem is, Fired Up seriously miscalculates D’Agosto and Olsen’s frat-guy magnetism. Their rapid-fire banter trades heavily in snarky pop-culture references, homo jokes, and catchphrases like “You have to risk it to get the biscuit.” On the off chance that anyone out there would want to spend time with guys like this—and would appreciate a bonus plug for Staples’ recycled paper products, too—this movie has been made just for them.