With the help of gymnastics genius Missy Pantone, Torrance, the captain of cheerleader champs the Toros, drives her team to create an original routine, skirts around romance with Missy's brother and squares up to Isis, the head girl of rivals the Clovers.
So overflowing with lithe young totty - shot in languorous slo-mo - that local divisions of the Dirty Mac Brigade are already stocking up on multi-ply tissues, Bring It On, for the rest of us, is a spirited cartwheel through cheerleading and teen comedy grooves without ever getting to the heart of how ridiculous parading with pom poms actually is.
As the opening sequence kicks in - a direct-to-camera cheerleading routine that takes the piss out of every one you've ever seen- the stage is set for a sharp satire on high school rituals. Yet, the edgy tone soon dissipates and the movie swiftly blands out into more conventional fare, ticking all the boxes in the teen flick checklist: laboured girlie bitching, drippy romance, smart-aleck little brother as comic relief, the alternative rock soundtrack, the easy moral (being yourself is what counts) and an ending as predictable as anything on 90210 are all here and accounted for.
Still, there's lots to like about Bring It On. The dialogue contains a smattering of sassy lines ("Your ass is so big it could form its own web site"), the look is bright and cartoony and the film throws the occasional quirk into the formula: a high school that roots for the cheerleaders rather than the team, and a funny, bizarre scene in which Torrance and Cliff try to outdo each other in a teeth-cleaning face-off.
As she proved with the superior Drop Dead Gorgeous, Dunst can simultaneously inhabit, yet slyly lampoon, the all-American stereotype, and is rapidly becoming the most interesting of the young set. Reed, meanwhile, injects the proceedings with a surfeit of energy: the staging of the cheerleading sequences is particularly dynamic and inventive, the direction finding myriad ways to film the umpteen scenes of cavorting. Fun and lively, then, but lacking the requisite intelligence to make it anything else.
Lacking the bite of Election, the smut of American Pie or the charm of 10 Things I Hate About You, Bring It On fails to reach the top echelon of recent high-school outings. It remains, however, easy on the eye, and sporadically fun.