It used to be that film makers would only come to Utah to film in the desert. The stark environment made a perfect backdrop to westerns and the occasional sci-fi scene.
In the last few years, films like Napoleon Dynamite and the High School Musical series has changed the film scene in Utah forever.
As in the wake of every success though, there comes a line of people hoping to make lightning strike twice by copying what the successful processors did. Predictably it rarely works.
Unitards follows Lewis (Sam Featherstone) and his friends (Jamison Featherstone and Zack Spurlock) as they try to bring school spirit back to their high school. They come up with the concept of creating an all-boys dance team to perform at pep rallies to get the school excited.
Along the way they have to compete with the school’s existing girl dance team and their evil Sue Sylvester rip-off, as well as the general uncoordinated movements of teenage boys.
The film boasts to be a combination of Napoleon Dynamite and High School Musical, which is admirable to get the fact that they’re blatantly trying to rip off their success out of the way rather than just make the audience guess.
It brings the awkward dialogue from Dynamite as well as the completely white washed and squeaky clean view of high school from Musical and forces them into a Frankenstein creation angry villagers wouldn’t go after.
Unitards fails in every place a film could possibly fail in without being shot entirely with a loaf of bread.
Acting didn’t seem to be a problem for the main characters in the film since it seems all they did was tell them to be themselves and they’d just film that, so the three main characters are just goofy teenage boys. They try to characterize them as being the losers of the school but since they dress, talk, and look exactly like everyone else in their school it doesn’t come across as believable.
To pad out the already insubstantial plot the film throws in a half a dozen montages of the boys playing around. About 90 minutes in the film even seems to be wrapping up in a simple way only for another montage to kick in making it feel like the film is having some sort of seizure before continuing with the story.
The biggest problem with the film is that it’s safe. The characters have nothing to risk so it’s hard to empathize with them.
Even the scene where the trio gets hassled by some football players doesn’t feel like a threat because the football players are shorter than the people they’re bullying. They keep trying to convince the audience that they’re somehow the underdogs, and that being in this dance group will give them a place, but it just doesn’t pull off well when, once again, all the boys are exactly like everyone else in the school.
Glee was able to pull because its characters have some sort of weight to them. These guys would float up to the sky if they weren’t tied down to their shoes.
The film is not worth the price of admission but is probably worth the 99 cents when it ends up discounted at Deseret Book.
Unitards is rated PG because for some reason live action movies can’t be rated G.