I wish I could tell you that this blog 18 months in the making is soooo gonna be worth it, but I just cannot promise you that.
“But Spanny!” you cry out, “It’s a movie about UCLA! Miss Val! Dancing! Winning!!”
Yes. Yes it is.
Really, given the story of Ariana Berlin, with the backdrop of UCLA gymnastics, it should be a hole-in-one. A given. A masterpiece.
We open with obligatory and yet super adorable home video footage of Ariana as a baby gymnast. You know it’s legit because they show the old vaulting horse. Several times.
Cut to present day, which puts Ariana at the most IMPORTANT meet of her life, the level 10 regional meet. Because as we have learned from every gymnastics movie ever, regionals is VERY. SERIOUS. BUSINESS. The Very Important Regionals are conveniently being held at UCLA.
Immediately featured are some top-notch, high quality level 10 skills such as a roundoff rebound and underswing dismount. This movie has my attention.
Ariana and her BFF-since-birth Isla walk into the meet, and poor vulnerable Isla is petrified because the other girls have roundoffs and underswing dismounts. She’s worried about not “placing,” because apparently she’s a horse in a race, and her dad will kill her if she doesn’t fill out his trifecta.
Oh, also her dad is Valeri Liukin. He has four Olympic medals, so if Isla doesn’t place like the pony she is, then she can just have one of his, right? Right? Right.
Ariana, ever the supportive pal, reassures Isla that it could be worse. I mean, she could be stuck with super great, supportive parents who just want her to have fun. Because that is just the WORST.
Before she can begin, Ariana must do some very helpful shoulder rolls. It’s how all level 10s warm up. Some schmo named Nate approaches her, and gives her some cheap bracelet with the charm “Lucky” on it. No foreshadowing there. None at all.
After her cringe-worthy hallway PDA, Ariana is back on the floor, goofing off with Isla. Her coach, whose name I don’t know we learn, sooooo let’s call him Merv. I mean it’s not Miss Val, so does it really matter what his name is? The answer is no.
Speaking of Miss Val, Merv tells the girls to cut the shit, because THE QUEEN is in the house!
Merv explains to the girls that if they ever wanted to compete for UCLA, this was their ticket. Because that is exactly how recruitment works. NCAA coaches wait until the girls are almost done with their JO careers, and just quietly lurk in the stands. That’s exactly what happens.
For the weak and uneducated girls, Merv details the many accomplishments of the grand Miss Valorie Kondos Field, but Ariana and Isla needn’t listen. For they know, and have always known that UCLA was the place for them. After winning the Olympics, of course.
First up is Isla/Aisher Gerber on UB. While including a perfectly serviceable jaeger as well as a pretty pak, the Full Out team made a grave error.
WHERE ARE THE PARKETTE CORNROWS, HUH?
I mean in one shot there are no Parkette cornrows and in the next there are Parkette cornrows! MADNESS. Get it together, continuity! I need a xanax.
A lovely routine, hair aside, but Fake Daddy Liukin is not happy. A 9.85 is worthless, WORTHLESS.
Ariana makes sure we really and truly understand that she hasn’t a care in the world. Not one. She lets Isla know she’s about to get a 400 on UB, and then prances over to the chalk bucket.
A quick scan of the stands shows Ariana’s loving and dutiful parents fumbling to get the perfect video shot, really hammering down the “I’m perfect, my boyfriend is perfect, my parents are perfect, Life is Perfect!!” narrative.
Ariana takes a quick moment to visualize her routine, which they actually show in a nifty little way.
Alright, focus on the catch. Makes enough sense to me, a gal who has never even thought about doing a release on bars.
Ok, starting to lose me a little here.
No time for thinking, because one spray of mysterious green water and Ariana is off!
We get rapid fire shots of everyone on the planet ever watching her routine, including but not limited to Miss Valorie Kondos-Field and her mysterious henchman. We’ll call her henchman Mustachioed Ariana Berlin. Miss Val and MAB want to know who this fresh new face to the scene is. MAB checks her stats, and with stunning, artistic delivery informs us “Ariana Berlin, from San Diego.”
Someone give that mysterious actress all the awards!
The routine is actually quite good, by gymnastics movie/TV standards. There isn’t much more than an iffy jaeger, a bail, and a tucked double dismount, but hey, all the skills faced the right way! A+ for effort.
Mmmm, previous grade redacted. C+ for effort.
But whatever, Isla LOVES it!
Lady McBubbles smiles at her adoring public, and then meets her parents back in the tunnel of love. Mama Berlin is totes sure that college coaches will be banging down the door, but Ariana reminds her that they’ll “know in a few days. They said they’ll have the final results by Friday.”
The results to what? This isn’t an STD test.
No time for answers, because Ariana is accosted by three bums in the hallway.
The three nobodies tell Ariana how amazing she is, and she’s all “Wow… thanks. I mean, you guys were great too. Really great....” as she quickly eyeballs the nearest exit.
She’s stopped by this nameless bitch who is just soooo blown away by Ariana’s stuck double back off of UB.
The trifecta of talentless teens is wrapped up by this average looking blonde, who cannot even FATHOM ever going to the Olympics. I mean, can you IMAGINE?? But le sigh, it’s not like she’ll ever get there….
Ariana tosses her a pity “Welp, you never know what could happen!” even though she knows there’s no chance in hell of these three chumps ever seeing the Olympic rings. EVER.
Next, we find ourselves at a sleepover between the super duper best friendsies. The gals discuss Isla’s inevitable qualification to the Olympic team, because again, that’s exactly how it works. Level 10 gymnasts qualify to the team, especially if they’re the “best in the country.” Sounds about right.
Ariana reminds her that Step One is the Olympics, Step Two is gymnastics at UCLA. Because did you know that UCLA Gymnastics has amazing gymnastics? Now you know.
Perfection McPerkyPants is up bright and early the following morning, studying for, what else, Organic Chem. UGH. Mama McBubbles takes this opportunity to remind the audience that Ariana is both a championship gymnast AND a straight A student. As a reward for being perfect, Mama McB wants to bring Ariana shopping. Some generic Perfect Mother/Perfect Daughter banter follows.
The two are in the car, on a long, winding road to the mall, I guess, when Ariana opens up about being nervous since “a coach from the UCLA gymnastics team” was at regionals. So she’s that obsessed with UCLA and doesn’t know Miss Val’s name? Mr. Tampson knows who Miss Val is, and he also thinks Chuso is “that kid from Glee.”
Next, Ari worries about not qualifying to the Olympic team, again, as if that was a thing. You qualify for a loan, you do not qualify for the USA Olympic gymnastics team. She pulls out her busted little bracelet from that Nate creep, and its horrible quality immediately causes her mother to lose her mind.
Lucky, indeed. Just in case you were wondering what one does when faced with sudden oncoming traffic, the editors were sure to include a shot of a pale pink flat hitting the brakes.
HOW ELSE WAS I TO KNOW THAT SHE TRIED TO STOP THE CAR??
Slightly less obvious is how they chose to represent the crash’s effect on Ariana.
I don’t hate it. I don’t understand it, but I don’t hate it.
So, she was doing great in life/on beam until BLAMMO, and now she’s not.
And now she’s dismounting onto real life. Also glass.
Well, shit. After waking up from a coma, Ariana’s doctor details her laundry list of injuries: punctured lung, broken collarbone, two broken ribs, slight wrist fracture, messed up pancreas, one snapped femur, and the other fractured. KIND OF PUTS THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE, DOESN’T IT, SHAWN “I GOT A KNEE BOO BOO” JOHNSON?
Given her diagnosis, it doesn’t seem that a return to gymnastics will be in her near future. Cue “But I was going to go to the Olympi-i-i-ics!!” meltdown.
Our once peppy and delightful teen is now sullen and moody. That’s what happens when your Olympic “qualification” is ripped from you, I suppose.
The entire concept of time in this film confuses me to my core. Ariana is supposedly 14, but she’s in college five minutes later. Both she and Isla are at the Level 10 Super Important Regionals, but Isla is at the Olympics basically the next day.
Unless Ari was in a coma for a hundred years? I have no idea what is happening. What I do know is that Isla won a shameful silver medal at the games. Gross. WE ONLY DO GOLD HERE, SWEETHEART. Or did you not get the memo?
Ariana could not give a fraction of a shit, or pretends not to because she’s moody and sullen. She tries to give some teenaged sass to the new physical therapy resident, but Michelle isn’t having it.
*Sidebar* The actress who plays Michelle also played Gabby’s sister, Ari (whoooa coincidence??) in the Glorious of All Glories: The Gabby Douglas Story. Lifetime does have the tendency to be incestual in their casting.
Anyhoo, Michelle wheels Ari into the training room, and parks her there to check out some of the less fortunate patients.
What follows is the first of roughly 40 million training and/or dance montages. In this case, we’re treated to a montage of Ariana’s therapy, which of course exactly mirrors her training in gymnastics.
Speaking of insurmountable obstacles, Michelle has asthma. Inhaler and everything. WHOA. Whoa.
Slowly, veeeeeeery slowly, Ariana’s training montage evolves from wheeling herself around the race track, as one does, to crutching herself along the beach.
Seems practical enough. Crutches in the sand is a fine idea.
We finish up Montage 1.0 with Michelle tricking Ariana into taking twenty steps on her own, despite the fact that we literally just watched her haul ass up a huge mess of stairs, albeit slowly. They’re best friends now.
Ariana makes her return to Super Generic Gymnastics Club, at the behest of her mother. Coach Merv is pumped to see her, and explains that the gang is going to be so excited! I am still so confused as to how long Ari has actually been out for. “The gang” hasn’t seen her in seemingly forever, but she’s just relearning how to walk… Oh and also the Olympics have come and gone. What is even happening.
These assholes. In case you have forgotten in the past eight minutes, and I know I have, the chode on the right is that creep Nate. Stupid creepy Nate is scamming on Isla, who I guess is totally allowed to date and be normal now that she qualified to the Olympic gymnastics team and won a silver medal.
Me too, Ari. Me too.
Instead of throwing her crutches and screaming “EAT MY ASS!!” Ariana pivots and hobbles away with a quickness.
Coach Merv is confused, so he trots after Ariana to get the hot gossip. He tries to reassure her that Isla and Nate totally/maybe aren’t a thing. He’s probably just congratulating her on getting into UCLA!
Cut to Ariana dumping all UCLA/gymnastics items from her room in the trash. Her mom interrupts to tell her that Michelle has arrived to take her out. “WHAT WHAT WHAT??” Mama McBubbles is back to being the cool mom, forcing her surly daughter to go out with friends.
Michelle and Ariana roll up to a dangerous and yet safe joint on the other side of the tracks. Michelle opens up the garage door, as these types of places all have, and introduces Ariana to The Palace.
Tres chic. This is one hip joint, let me tell you. There are christmas lights hanging, and posters on the walls… and did you even SEE the boombox? BOOMBOX PEOPLE. Everybody hugs everyone else as if they haven’t seen each other in ages. That must be what the hip, cool kids do these days. Ariana snottily asks Michelle where the fuck they are, and Michelle brutally responds, reminding her that “For all the bitching and whining you’ve done about your sad ass boyfriend and your dumb medals, you never once even thought to kind of sort of maybe ask me anything about my life, anything at all. Hoe.”
Michelle introduces Ariana to Emma, who makes a corny remark about taking out an eyeball with Ari’s crutches. Ariana immediately assumes Emma is a murderous psychopath, because they are on the wrong side of the tracks and all. And since she is still very much in pity-party mode, Ariana laments that she won’t be doing any dancing at this “rave.” Michelle and Emma piss themselves laughing, because OMG this isn’t the 90s. Emma explains that this is what is known as a session. Oh well alright then. Next you’ll be telling me that the thing is on fleek. KIDS THESE DAYS. Stupid made up words.
Michelle makes the rounds, and introduces Ari to the rest of the Fleeky Session Kids. She’s known as “the gymnast” and they’re all known as… nothing because Ariana never let Michelle mention anything about her friends.
The Fleeky Fleeksters start dancing, grooving, twerking? and immediately Ariana’s immediately all “Nope. Wrong. This is all wrong.”
Some guy does the one legged butterfly kick twirlie thing (technical term) and Ari loudly moans “He’ll be sore tomorrow!” From the one legged butterfly kick twirlie thing? I have yet to see a female gymnast do the one legged butterfly kick twirlie thing, so I don’t know where she gets off immediately judging the Fleeky Bottomed Boys.
Ariana furthers her condemnation by pointing out that one of the Fleeks did a side somi after eating a burrito, UGH. The disgust is palpable. Turns out this particular Fleek’s name is Twist, I guess, and his defining characteristic is that he likes Mexican food. Really in depth character work here. The session is wrapped up by some generic six-pack love interest, after which everyone hugs one another again. Because that is what they do.
Michelle takes footage from their session, because oh yeah I guess she was recording, and immediately uploads it to the interwebs with the goal of one day getting ONE MILLION hits. Dream big, honey.
Finally, Michelle makes her intentions clear: she wants Ariana to help the Fleeky Fleekmeisters with some gymnastics crap, so they can audition for this super high powered very amazing talent agency that only holds auditions ONCE A YEAR OMG but man oh man once the super high powered very amazing talent agency represents you, you are “in with the money.” (actual quote.) “Travel around the world, be on TV, tour with ROCKSTARS!” (more actual dialogue.) Ariana bursts Michelle’s bubble with a quickness, again reminding her that she is a virgin who can’t drive. I mean a worthless cripple who can’t even do gymnastics.
Ariana returns home to find an intervention of sorts going on in her living room. Coach Merv is leading the charge, because apparently this little tiff between Ariana and Isla is so super damaging. I mean it’s hurtful to Ariana’s recovery, how I’m not quite sure, but as someone who has seen her exactly one time since the accident, Merv knows. And it’s obviously harmful to Isla too, because reasons.
Isla tries to motivate Ariana to get back into the gym, because she can totally still get into UCLA. Ari almost appears to think about it, when that numbskull Nate calls Isla’s phone, and Ariana’s like “Nope nope nope.” And anyway, she’s totally busy with something else. Something called DANCING! *starswipe*
Ariana bursts into the physical therapy office to tell Michelle the good news. Once she’s there, she meets Katie, a former professional skier who became a paraplegic following a run in with a tree. This trips Ari out on several levels. So I guess there is someone, somewhere who might have it a smidge harder than old Ariana Berlin. Who knew?
Michelle and Ariana race off to the safe and yet dangerous Palace, where they are immediately accosted by Cashmere, because she’s so full of ‘tude, and she don’t need no stinkin’ gymnast to learn her how to dance.
We are also treated to the rest of the opening lineup, and their stats.
Again, really intricate stuff. The love interest’s special skill is hotness, and his accessory is a six pack.
That’s all I have to say about that.
More montage-y goodness as we’re introduced to the gang. Cashmere’s still fifty shades of butthurt, because she cannot fathom what this limping white girl could possibly teach them that they don’t already know.
Cue the montage! Twist and The Six Pack hug and high five after literally every single thing they do. That’s how you know they’re bros.
Michelle was right, they definitely needed “Olympic level” Ariana to teach them how to do cartwheels. They are SO gonna get that super high powered very amazing talent agency contract now!
Time for a dance break to show how much fun we’re having! We’re all the best of friends!
After some heartwarming crap about inspiration and whatever else, Ariana marches into Generic Gymnastics Club and asks Coach Merv if her dance group can train there at night. Coach Merv’s like “Sure, why not?” Because, as always, unsupervised and probably uninsured training at night is not only allowed, it’s encouraged. But Coach Merv does beg the question, “If you can do hip hop, why not gymnastics?” I mean they are obviously the same thing, taking the exact same about of time and dedication. He tells Ariana that he can get her a demo in front of Miss Val in a few weeks.
I mean it really only should take a few weeks to go from just being able to walk without a brace to full collegiate level routines. I see no problem here.
In the meantime, Ariana lets the band of fleeky misfits into the gym, at night, natch. It’s mildly endearing to see each of the Fleeky Five prance around the equipment like a bunch of excited children. I mean, shit, I’m a million years old and I still get that way when I walk into a nice gymnastics gym. It’s an appreciation I have passed onto my two year old son. I have no regrets.
Ariana makes her way over to her old mistress, the beam. Both of them had seen better days.
She strokes it lovingly until Michelle snaps her out of her fantasy. The time for play/stroking old busted beams is over. Now it’s time to WORK.
While the pirate moves are questionable at best, I appreciate where they were going with the doodling/math editing. Imagine the whiteboard of NBC 2012 Olympic Trials fame, except that it’s not like that at all and it’s almost maybe useful. Well, maybe not that far away from useless… It’s less useless than The Whiteboard.
It is an interesting way to visualize certain skills, and perhaps the momentum behind them. Basically what happens is Ariana blacks out, and visualizes the routine, but instead of just weird pirate moves, there are also gymnastics moves (sorta?) These sweet new moves are illustrated by some random doodles, and some actually helpful diagrams explaining the hows and whys of skills.
So post-visualization, she opens her eyes to Twist staring at the her, eating a burrito. Because of course. She explains what she has in mind: a montage.
I mean… maybe this is a way to teach dudes how to set on their back tucks? That’s all I’ve got.
I cannot think of a more worthless way of learning a BHS, except for, of course, the legendary pac-man mats.
We wouldn’t be the Fleeky Fuckwads if we didn’t show how much FUN we were having at all times!
Look at us jump like a little line of bunnies, hop hop hopping on the tumble tramp. With our shoes on….. rabble.
So much fun.
Once she’s finished spotting the Fleekys on rings and whatever other useless events, Ariana takes the natural next step, and trains alone in the dark. Because gymnastics movie.
Now, having been out of the gym from anywhere from 6 months to 3 years (I am still so so confused) it is imperative to adequately warm up the body, lest one injure oneself. A little shoulder stretch oughta do it.
Now the actress who plays Ariana clearly has at least a little background in dance, so I’m not sure why she can’t seem to muster a stretch beyond this at any point in the film. This isn’t high school PE, stretch out like a motherfucking ELITE GYMNAST maybe. Maybe.
After falling over on Ashley Postell’s old mount, Ari cuts her losses and just hops onto the beam. #TeamChina. Which leads us into Montage #11. Ariana initially stumbles on basic walks, and that blasted full turn. She got the butt shelf right though. We know this because they show her doing it roughly seven million times. But then… on a whim, she starts getting a little funky. A little bit of hip here, and little bit of hop there. By golly, she’s a great beamer again! We’d better ruin this moment by insulting us with terrible editing.
I mean really. You’re not even trying, are you editors? Shame shame shame.
Ariana moves on to bars, so good thing she did her super extensive shoulder stretch of pulling one arm across her body one time. She’s gonna feel awesome tomorrow. Out of the darkness emerges a shadowy figure. It’s just Coach Merv, creepin’ because he wants to remind Ari about the “walk-on demos at UCLA.” WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK IS A DEMO??
No time to ask questions, because right now we need to be back with the Fleekertons, choreographing a routine that is SURE to wow the super high powered very amazing talent agents. Ariana suggests an aerial section as the grand finale, but everyone knows that aerial sections are worthless, and they need something CRACK IN YOUR ASS AMAZING to impress this particular super high powered very amazing talent agency. So nameless Six-Pack begs the question, what is the holy grail in gymnastics?
If you answered “a full out!” you’d be right. You’d also be stupid. Despite Ariana’s attempt to describe what exactly a full out is, that still doesn’t quite explain how a rag-tag bunch of dancers would be able to perform one ON A WOODEN STAGE at an audition, given the laws of gravity and all.
But whatever, Ariana should totally throw one right now despite not having done gymnastics in ten years (I mean maybe?) and having done one piddly shoulder stretch. Which probably would have happened, but luckily these badasses rolled up.
Isla gets it, as she taunts Ariana. “Yeah Ariana, totally do the full out!” She’s a bitch now because someone skipped out on her walk-on demo at UCLA.
*Snap, snap, snap, snap*
Scumbag Nate gets a touch racist, and labels the Sharks/Fleeks as being thuggy lowlifes, because colors. Whitey McSixPack is all “Whoa! Whoa. We are artists, BRAH.” To which Nate replies “I wouldn’t know about artistry, I’m an athlete.” You said it, not me. Packs McGee whips back with the brilliant retort “Well you’re definitely not a stylist.”
WHOA, shit is getting REAL up in here! A pistol-whipping is imminent. And by pistol-whipping, I mean a sad, weird tumble/dance off.
Nate wows us with three BHSs to a back tuck. Elite level shit. The Fleeks respond by hugging, obviously, and then doing some forgettable kicky twist dance stuff. So Nate’s like “Oh YEAH??” and does an unforgivably filthy back extension roll to more BHSs to a low, archy layout. It is not cute. But he’s not done! He follows up with a staggered, piked full. On a spring floor. Confusion, thy name is Spanny.
We should all be very, very threatened by his athletic prowess.
But not Twist and SixPack.
The hug a little, high five a little, and then…….
Nasty Nate comes back with this weird barani-type move, and follows with exactly one flair. One. The Fleekers answer with some bro-ey broseph bro-bro moves, of course followed by hugging and high fives. Nate has had about enough. He sets out to slay the bros with his Mortal Combat “FINISH HIM!!!” move: a straddle jump over the guys.
He falls. Naturally.
And thus ends this sick, sad dance battle. Nate has lost not only the pride he inexplicably has, he also lost Isla, who is hurtin’ for a squirtin’ from Twist. She does take a break from her thirsting to remind Ariana that she’s a gymnast, not a dancer.
That’s enough to convince Ariana, so she heads to UCLA for her “demo” (I MEAN WTF EVEN??) Sauntering in wearing a beanie and a flannel tied around her waist, because she’s a hip hop dancer now and as such needs to dress alternatively, Ariana scopes out her surroundings. An angel ascends from the heavens.
“Ariana Berlin,” claims Miss Val, as she is all-knowing and all-powerful. Ariana, with stars in her eyes, immediately crumples on the ground and melts into a puddle of goo, because Miss Val. She asks how she can become a walk-on for UCLA, and Miss Val chortles in response. Does Ariana not realize that Miss Val is paid handsomely to produce the most elite athletes in the country? Ariana, realizing she’s at a Walmart interview, maybe, states “I’ve always been a winner, and I’m ready to win again.” Miss Val is all “That’s cute. It’s also not enough. Don’t waste my time, peasant.”
Only after Ariana walks away does Miss Val pretend that she was just kidding, and tells Ari that she’ll need to do a demo.
Val meant perform one in the near future, but Ariana doesn’t quite get that, so she rips her clothes off, ready to do her demo RIGHT NOW.
Ariana mounts with a layout, which should fit in nicely at UCLA. Mustachioed Ariana Berlin points out that Ari has a very, very small D, unsatisfying to literally everyone. But Miss Val is like “Yeah, but look at this thing she can do with her arms. WELCOME TO THE TEAM!”
Who needs tumbling when you have leaps like this?
Everyone. The answer is everyone.
While Miss Val is hounding down on some Ariana cake with hip hop frosting, the Mustachioed Ariana Berlin remains a tad skeptical. Val reassures her that Ari will never compete. Hmm, that’s not like Miss Val at all, to sign 800,000 girls and then have 799,998 not compete…
Now that she’s on the gymnastics team and dancing her “hip hop” at night, Ariana is back to her busy bee self. This pleases Mama McBubbles greatly. Now that Ari is back to her perfect self, she and her parents get along swimmingly.
Ariana is at the gym swinging bars, with real skills and everything, when she dismounts with a double tuck.
Ouchie. We know it hurts because she lifts her leg like she’s Kerri Strug, but when Isla sprints over to see if she’s OK, Ariana is too cool for school and pretends like she’s totally fine. Isla keeps yapping as Ariana does a pullover onto the low bar. It is worth noting that the actress herself actually did a real life pullover, and for that, she receives four Spanny Points. Pullovers ain’t easy. For mortals. If you’re like, Simone Biles, then yeah, pullovers are probably pretty easy.
Isla cries out that she didn’t cause the car accident, and Ari’s like “No shit, I know you didn’t. Nate’s stupid LUCKY bracelet did.”
We get some fancy graphics stating that it’s one month later, while some random gymnast does back walkovers. Again, I’m not upset about it.
Isla is working out on floor, and her monster dad, Not Valeri Liukin, is sitting front and center, watching her every move.
Yeah, Fake Valeri Liukin is not pleased. So much so that he feels the need to kick a chair across the gym. I’m sure Miss Val is totally cool with it, and allows it in her gym every day.
I can’t say that I blame him, what with Isla stumbling out of a layout. A layout. One single layout. Oh you, Bruins. Never change.
For some reason this is all Ariana’s problem, per Miss Val.
Because she’s on Team UCLA, and UCLA is all about the team, Miss Val needs Ariana to talk to Isla. I really thought a movie about Miss Val would include some of her patented “Miracle Rebirth of Devastated Elite Gymnast” mojo, but alas, it is not to be. It’s all up to Ariana now.
She catches up with Isla, and admits that she’s jealous, because it was her dream to win a medal at the Olympics and then go to UCLA. And since that’s exactly what Isla ended up doing, and boning Ariana’s gross boyfriend Nate, Ari was naturally a tad butthurt. Isla is in shock, as if Ariana’s reasons for being pissy hadn’t been obvious since the movie began. But whatever, it doesn’t matter, because they’re best friends again!
Because they’re besties again, Ariana snatches Isla and drags her to the Palace, one part to get her mind off of gymnastics for a minute, two parts to help her ride Twist’s bologna pony.
Michelle is tweaked out, because she hasn’t seen Ariana in weeks. It’s creepy and maybe a little possessive. Isla calls Ariana out on not having told the Fleekbottoms that she’s at UCLA.
Ariana skips off to do some hip-hopping with her hip-hoppers as Twist moseys on over to Isla, offering her chili cheese fries. Because he likes fatty food, and that is the extent of his character. He dances, high fives, hugs, and eats fried food. And potentially smashes Isla. That’s it.
So we’re forced to endure the trite subplot where the obviously anorexic gymnast, because gymnastics, is offered delicious food but has to decline, because coaches.
Twist is all “Pretend it’s my big di- errr… I mean, it’s a big apple slice.” so she immediately stuffs his dick/chili cheese fry into her hot, wet mouth. “It’s sooo good,” she moans. “It’s what I do. I bring di- errr… joy, joy to the people,” he growled, with desire in his voice.
Before he can bring his skin boat to tuna town, an impromptu DANCE PARTY!!!!! breaks out.
For all the fancy hipping and hopping these artists can do, all we see is a bunch of moshpit-like bunny hopping. Not very hip. But SOOOO much fun, what with all the young adult bodies gettin’ all hot and sweaty and *oops!* Isla just backs that ass right up to the very dehydrated Twist. Fun is had.
Val is mad.
Don’t her girls know that as elite level gymnasts they are allowed to do gymnastics and that is IT? No eating, no drinking, no classes, just yoga on the beach and training in the gym. Nowhere in that list does it say “Soul Flow Dance Party with the Beanie Patrol.” More like the weenie patrol, amirite?
Val gives Ariana an ultimatum: either become a champion with the glorious Bruins, or maybe become a background dancer in a rap video. Miss Val moves on to lurk in the gym, and watches Isla positively nail her front tuck through to a full. WOWSERS. Both coach and student are thrilled by such a performance.
Ariana is sitting alone on the beam in the dark, as one does, when Anonymous SixPack comes to join her. They have some really awkward and uncomfortable dialogue, and I think it’s supposed to be flirting but they’re both really, really failing at it. SixPack is all “Here, let me stretch you out.” Which everyone knows is code for “I want you to do the splits in my bed.”
Sensual. Ariana and SixPack are about to get in on, when the rest of the Fleeks roll up. BUMMER DUDE. You’ll have to live out your sexy gymnast fantasy another time. Ariana is so distraught by her big, dangerous secret. You know, that she’s on the gymnastics team and she totally can’t tell the Fleeks because OMG. She simply cannot do both. She tells the Fleeks, and of course they all lose their minds. Michelle has a total meltdown, acting like a cuckolded boyfriend. The Fleeks stomp out of the gym, shunning Ariana, as she is now persona non grata.
Back at UCLA, the Bruins are working out on floor. Some random blows her super difficult pass of a back tuck, and Miss Val destroys her for being such trash. But it’s not the horrifying lack of difficulty that upsets Val, it’s the lack of performance. Val is red in the face as she lectures the girls about performance. She then randomly calls on Ariana to show her floor routine, and then performance quality had better be top notch OR ELSE. *Gulp*
Ariana busts out her funky routine. I must give credit where credit is due: the actress who plays Ariana does the dancing herself, and she is quite good. Not real Ariana Berlin good, but she clearly has a background in dance. Five Spanny Points for the casting director.
Ari falls asleep standing up, and by that I mean she closes her eyes and stands motionless for an Aliya amount of time, visualizing her… wait for it… FULL OUT. Don’t you just love when the dialogue actually uses the film title? I don’t.
After a mish-mash of editing horrors (obvious full just kidding it’s a double tuck I mean pike I mean layout) Ariana lands her FULL OUT on her Maloney tibia rod, which of course sends a tidal wave of pain through her body. Whatever, Maloney could do it without whining, and then go out back and throw shade at autograph-hounding young adults while smoking a cigarette at worlds that one time.
Miss Val is all “What the front handspring was THAT??”
Ariana slowly explains what a FULL OUT is, speaking as though Miss Val was blind old bat who had never seen gymnastics a day in her life. #Valentina.
However, since she’s not a blind old bat, Miss Val is quick to reassure Ari. “I am not an idiot, I know what a FULL OUT is. I mean what on Gabby’s green Earth was that performance??” Ariana doesn’t hesitate to clap back with “Mmmmm, I don’t know, background dancing in a hip hop video?” Burrrn.
Ariana rolls up to the Palace about forty seconds later. Suffice it to say, the Fleekydeakys aren’t thrilled.
Nadia Dontaneedja. I’m still laughing about that. OK, cheesy gymnastics movie, you got me, you got me. *insert cheeky Eddie Murphy laugh* Ariana wastes no time, asking the Fleeks if they’ll teach some groovy hip hop moves to her gymnastics team. In case anyone forgot what kind of team she was on, it’s the gymnastics team at UCLA Gymnastics filled with Bruin gymnasts.
SixPack Joe tells the crew to huddle up, not unlike an episode of Scooby Doo.
Like it’s Thanksgiving dinner, everyone goes around the circle and shares what fantastic amazing thing Saint Ariana has done for him/her personally. Turns out, she is the bastion of perfection, and as such, the Fleek Streets can totally help the gymnastics team from UCLA Gymnastics where girls compete in gymnastics.
Cue the montage!
We enjoy cute little snippets of the Fleeks trying to get the gymnasts to loosen up, to drop their gymnast posture, etc and so forth.
I’m not going to pretend I’m not mildly amused by the gymnast poses. It’s funny because it’s true.
After she finishes posing like every Level 5 ever, Isla saunters over to Twist, probably in hopes that he’ll take the old log to the beaver. But first, since she’s so carefree and wild now, Isla snatches one of his tacos and chows down. Literally.
Well look at that, disordered eating solved by just telling her to eat junk food. REALITY. They then leave so Twist can go ride the bologna pony. Probably.
Worthless Nate shows up, and comes crawling to SixPack to beg for forgiveness. They hug, of course, and then I guess they’re also doing it? It’s not clear.
Speaking of unrequited love, Ariana and Michelle sneak off to a dark corner to have an intimate talk. Ariana says “Gee, I hope I didn’t screw you guys too bad.” Michelle’s all “You screwed us so so bad.” So Ariana makes it all better by giving Michelle a gift.
How generous. But since she’s obsessed with the gymnast, Michelle eagerly accepts the crummy little medal. She then asks Ariana if she’s coming to the audition for the super high powered very amazing talent agents. Ari can’t, because Miss Val totes owns her and she HAS to be at practice on whatever day the audition is. Michelle swallows her bitter disappointment, and escorts Ariana back to the ongoing dance party montage-fest. Back handsprings are done. #ScottBregman
We move directly from the dance montage into a training montage.
Random training shots are seen, while we hear Miss Val saying Miss Val things during a Miss Val meeting. We see Ariana doing all sorts of extracurricular training, but I don’t see any sort of hot yoga whatsoever, so it’s really hard for me to buy into. But just in case we’ve forgotten how perfect and lovely Ariana is, the montage makes sure to remind us.
Wow, she’s treating a physically disabled person as if she’s a normal human being. How incredibly brave. There’s no time to mull over Ariana’s physical and spiritual perfection, because auditions for the super high powered very amazing talent agents is today! The Fleeks excitedly bounce down the stairs, all jazzed for their gymnasticsized performance. But wait! Michelle is having a major asthma attack!
Quick! To the phones! Joe SixPack speed dials Ariana, detailing Michelle’s debilitating attack. I mean, yeah, her friend can’t currently breathe or anything, but Ariana has her priorities straight.
Not the handspring pass!! But never fear, Ari has a solution in mind, as would any cosmically perfect person would. She approaches Miss Val, and gives her some weird story about “Really, really feeling it,” which I think is code for having the shits? I’m not entirely sure. All the same, Ariana jets from practice and hauls ass to the theatre where the auditions for the super high powered very amazing talent agency are being held. We are witness to another group trying out, and they ALSO have a back tuck, so WHOAAA, watch out Fleeks!
I mean, a back tuck is waaaaay harder than a back handspring, so I don’t know what kind of chance the Funky Fleeks even have. Despite their setback, SixPack and Twist do their obligatory bro-hug before jumping onstage, prepared to go on without Michelle. SixPack messes up right off the bat, as Ariana leaps out of a taxi and races into the auditorium. Whatever does she have planned??
OH MY GOD I SO DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. Despite not having trained with them for roughly five hundred years, Ariana manages to know every single move and nail every single step with ease. Including but not limited to stuffing her ass in the judges’ faces.
Some more creative editing shows off Ariana’s patented front/side aerial switcharoo.
Then, she tops that off with a BHS-LOSO. SUCK ON THAT, SHITTY PREVIOUS GROUP.
There are a few more generic moves that wouldn’t be seen in even the most forgettable of SYTYCD auditions, and then they stick it (see what I did there?) with a hot pose.
Moments later, we’re back at UCLA, this time for the NCAA championships!
UGH can it be January 8th yet? Sticking with their theme of No Reality Allowed, NCAAs is being broadcast live. Who are our in-house commentators, you ask?
So THAT’S where Elfi’s been since she got Nastia’d. I’d been wondering. She delivers a line about Ariana coming back to gymnastics a few years ago, which adds to the secondary theme of the film, No Concept of Time Whatsoever. I’ll explain how in a little bit. For now, let’s focus on one of my favorite topics ever, Matchy Matchy Leos.
Lifetime gets it right every time. Forty Spanny Points. The lovely mystery brunette commentator gives us a little foreshadowing, sharing that Ariana has been having trouble with her last pass, the FULL OUT. Because UCLA gymnasts dismount with E passes. Reality. We follow with a cheeky moment between Miss Val and Mustachioed Ariana Berlin, where MAB reminds Val that she said that Ari would never compete. Valorie remembers nothing of the sort.
Then, in more matchy-matchy goodness, we are treated to the Lifetime remake of Ariana’s 2009 FX. One hundred million Spanny Points.
As she prepares for her final pass, the FULL OUT, Ariana chants to herself the mechanics of the skill. She runs, sets, flips, and then crashes down on her bum leg. She rolls around on the floor in agony, as everything that was ever said to her plays out in her head. More glass shattering symbolism is seen. Sigh, I guess that’s it for the old Bruins.
JUST KIDDING. Lifetime psyched us out! Oh you. We see Ariana again run, set, do a series of mismatched flips, and then stick her FULL OUT with ease.
As she finishes, Ariana doesn’t even salute, she marches right over to the judges table and steals a microphone.
As one does. Without waiting for any sort of score, Ariana dives right into her speech, as is the tradition in gymnastics.
Yes, this is normal behavior. She thanks every single person who has supported her. She ends with Michelle, mentioning that while she has no more level 5 third-place medals to give her, she can try to give her her coveted ONE MILLION hits. And with that, the traditional NCAA championship flash mob begins.
Miss Val leaves the auditorium, because what is this even?
I guess we’ll never find out who won NCAAs that day.
The hits roll in, as Michelle brings in the mail. This is how all super high powered very amazing talent agents communicate. Everyone knows. The Fartwad Fleeks huddle around Michelle as she opens the envelope of wonder. Well, are they signed or not???
OMG THEY ARE TOTALLY SIGNED WITH THE SUPER HIGH POWERED VERY AMAZING TALENT AGENCY!!! Everybody freak!
OK, so this is another example of the Mysterious Lack of Time, as was referred to previously. So Ariana helps the Fleeks with their routine before she returns to gymnastics. She then begins training. The Fleeks have their stupid little audition, and all this appears to happen within reasonable amount of time, relatively. However, at NCAAs, Elfi blathers on about how Ariana returned to gymnastics several years ago. And then the Fleeks get their snail-mailed response from the super high powered very amazing talent agency. So either Elfi is the worst and doesn’t know any facts at all, or the Fleeks waited several years to hear back about their audition. Now that I think about it, it’s probably the former.
We wrap up with an lovely little epilogue. I love epilogues.
Nice butt shot, editors. For shame.
What is a “life friend?” I feel like that’s a Miss Val thing, and not a real world thing.
Remember those homely little nobodies from the L10 Regionals?
And we wrap up with the big reveal, that Mustachioed Ariana Berlin is THE REAL ARIANA BERLIN!!! Lifetime and their shocking twists.
And that, friends, is that. That was a real thing, wasn’t it? It’s a shame that this aired one time only for a handful of people in Canada, because now the world will remain ignorant to the true perfection that is Ariana Berlin.
Until the next one, friends, may your hip hop be on fleek (I punched myself after typing that) and your bro-hugs be on point!