Toon Talk: Jump In!
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by Kirby C. Holt
â€śFreestyle Editionâ€? Disney DVD
In the wake of the phenomenal success of High School Musical, The Disney Channelâ€™s hold on the â€śtweenâ€? market has only strengthened. Case in point: Jump In!, a different take on the inspirational sports film starring HSMâ€™s Sideshow Bob-haired Corbin Bleau. When this original movie, available on DVD today, debuted on TDC a few months back, it actually scored ratings higher then the record-setting HSM. Which just goes to prove that said â€śtweensâ€? arenâ€™t all that discerning.
Bleau plays Izzie Daniels, a high school boxer (yeah, I know, this pretty boy is a boxer?) with a bright future. He lives in a New York neighborhood where the Huxtables wouldnâ€™t look out of place with his slightly clueless widowed dad (played by Bleauâ€™s real life father, David Reivers) and spunky little sister (Kylee Russell). The plot unfolds when girl-next-door Mary (Keke Palmer), captain of a competitive Double Dutch team, ropes Izzie into joining her jump ropers. Originally oil and water, the two warm up to each other on their conveniently adjoined West Side Story fire escapes and the expected romance develops.
Izzie wants to keep his (in the movieâ€™s terms) â€śquestionableâ€? extra-curricular activity on the â€śdown lowâ€? (the script is peppered with such attempts at hip hoppish â€śstreet talkâ€?, which comes off awkward when spouted by such squeaky clean characters as these), but the local bully Rodney (Patrick Johnson Jr.) finds out, and plasters the pics to prove it all over campus (as a sign of his poorness, Rodney uses a old-fashioned camera and Xerox machine instead of a cell-phone cam and MySpace.com to spread this â€śdamningâ€? evidence). The reaction is disturbing and over-the-top (really, whatâ€™s so wrong about a boy jumping rope?), but serves the plot when Izzie quits the squad in a lame attempt to reclaim his masculinity. Whatever â€¦
He of course shows up just in time to attend the Bring It On-meets-You Got Served competition and face off with their Mean Girl rivals. Iâ€™m not giving away anything - really, you know what kind of movie this is - by revealing they win. And of course they win - who wouldnâ€™t with a freestyle routine that is three times as long as anybody elseâ€™s, including a full dance break where they donâ€™t even touch the rope (you would think that would be a requirement in a jump rope contest).
As you can tell, Jump In! (donâ€™t forget that exclamation point!) borrows a lot from other, better movies. Yes, there is a training montage (a prerequisite for any Rocky tale); thereâ€™s even a Million Dollar Baby girl boxer on hand for gender contrast. And although not a musical, this movie does share the same aesthetic, with such heart-on-their-sleeve lyrics belted out on the soundtrack (CD in stores now!) as â€śI gotta let it goâ€? and â€śwhere do I go from hereâ€?. Such bromides couldnâ€™t have been plainer if they had been crooned onscreen by the characters themselves.
There are some exciting â€śhow did they do that?â€? Double Dutch numbers when the cameras focus on the â€śprofessionalâ€? squads - some even including boys in their ranks - shocking! But when they focus on the so-called â€świnningâ€? team, youâ€™ll be spending most of your time playing spot the Double Dutch double.