"Bring It On: In It To Win It" is the fourth of these competitive cheerleader flicks to come down the pike in the past seven years, and either it is going to be the last or somebody is going to make it their personal mission in life to make sure the franchise finds a better end than this 2007 direct to video offering. One thing for sure: each of these films makes the original look better, and every time they try to come up with another cheer routine laden with irony and caustic wit it always pales in comparison with the opening bit of the original "Bring It On." Since it is assumed that you are checking out this movie because you liked the original (and perhaps one or more of the others in the series), such comparisons are inevitable as is the inevitable judgment that this is an inferior product.
You know that the end of the movie is going to be the big competition, so the goal is to set up as much conflict before the inevitable final battle before the cheering crowds and other competitors. That would be the Sharks, the red dressed team from the left coast captained by Carson (Ashley Benson), versus the Jets, the East Coast team decked out in blue led by Brooke (Cassie Scerbo). The Jets finished first and the Sharks second at the previous championship, so the groups hate each other. As you might suspect from their team names, the two teams end up facing off on the street, throwing around as much attitude and twists as they can before learning there is a reason cheerleaders do their routines on padded mats. With half of each team out of commission, Carson and Brooke have to find a way to work together or they are not going to go out as winners. There are additional layers of complications because Carson is smitten with Penn (Michael Copon), who, of course, is a Jet (I bet somebody out there is going to YouTube a montage of Carson and Penn to "A Boy Like That" from "West Side Story"; actually, most any song from that musical could be played against scenes from this film). If that is not enough adolescent angst, Penn has been lying to his parents about where he is spending his summer.
Then there is the curse of the spirit stick.
I round up on "Bring It On: In It To Win It" because when you get to the final act you get to see some competitive cheerleading routines, and since these are actual human beings doing all of this stuff I am always impressed. I know next to nothing about such cheerleading competitions, but like many of us I can fall back on the idea "I could never do that in a million years" and be allowed a small measure of awe. A lot of what is in this film is more miss than hit: for example, the semi-Goth cheerleader has her moments but the idea that not one but two of her teammates would confess to putting up fronts to be their particular stereotypes strikes me as too much. But that is to be expected from a franchise that is now at the point where the name of the game is to count things off by the numbers, from the nightmare cheerleading sequences at the start to the cast lip-synching to a song during the closing credits. Lower your expectations going in to this one and you will have a better chance of coming out ahead.