10 Years: “The Cheetah Girls 2”

Successful kid tv movie’s are destined for one thing. A sequel. No matter how irritating and cliché it may be to the adult that’s near by, the children watching will no doubt find something worth seeing again. That’s the one sad thing about TV movies for kids, they may have a new story, but seldom there’s anything truly new about it that says it was worth it.

The Disney-ABC Domestic Television movie “The Cheetah Girls 2”, is an okay story, with some decent and catchy songs, but still isn’t easy to watch as an adult.

This musical comedy stars Raven-Symone (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”, “Nashville”), Adrienne Bailon (“My Crazy Love”, “I’m in Love with a Church Girl”), Sabrina Bryan (“I Think My Babysitter’s an Alien”, “The Next Dance”), Kiely Williams (“Holla II”, “Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming”), Belinda Peregrin (“Tad, the Lost Explorer”, “Mujeres asesinas”), Lori Alter (“Make Your Move”, “House at the End of the Street”), Abel Folk (“La embjada”, “Barcelona Christmas Night”), Golan Yosef (“Ik ben de enige (Short 2014)”, “No me pidas que te bese porque te besare”), and Lynn Whitfield (“Greenleaf”, “Mistresses (US TV show”).

The movie was directed by Kenny Ortega (upcoming “The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)”, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) and written by Bethesda Brown and Alison Taylor (“Shake It Up!”, “Barbie in the Pink Shoes”).

The movie originally aired on Aug. 25, 2006 on Disney Channel.

When one “Cheetah Girls” movie isn’t enough, make it two! When I wrote about he first film five months ago, and then several other Disney Channel Original Movies (DCOM), plus the few I watched, I hadn’t fully realized what was coming up for this one. It’s 10 years old! I couldn’t wait to get to this movie, but sadly, I had to wait awhile. And now we’re here, and I’m ready to share my thoughts on this children’s movie. They certainly surprised me, even though the first one did dictate how I’d probably feel with this one.

This movie seems to be a step up from the first, primarily in it’s use of songs. The majority of the songs this time are just really, really catchy! They’re also surprisingly not overly irritating. I could stand them, and not surprisingly, found myself singing along to them. Yes, that’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but seeing as I was a teenager when this debuted, and had watched the previous one, it makes sense. Gotta love long term memory! Clearly this movie made enough of an impression on me. I can certainly see how any younger person would like this movie and its songs.

The ones I do like the most, “The Party’s Just Begun”, “Strut”, Step Up”, are helped by the fact that when they occur in the movie, there’s good and fun choreography on display. I can’t say that these dances are overly complex, but to me, they look complex enough, and for a movie of this sort, that’s all we can really hope for. With “Strut”, the choreography and the song’s are also helped by the fact that the sequence occurred throughout parts of Barcelona. This certainly allowed for a very beautiful experience, which is also the biggest help of this film. They shot on location in Barcelona! Definitely glad for that.

What I’m least glad for is the cliché story that seems to be occurring this time. It’s not so much the story, at least I don’t think so, as it is the themes. However, in order to see the themes and learn lessons, which is great if you’re a young child in need of a life lesson told in the most simplistic way, you have to suffer through some pretty obnoxious storytelling.

The characters, all of whom I was glad to see once more, have grown up a bit, or so you’d think. With two or three years now having passed, and the girls essentially waiting to start their senior year, the childish antics that were on display in the previous movie seem to be gone. Yay! However, as with most good things, it doesn’t last.

This is also the one area of the movie’s story I don’t understand. Not fully. Granted, I’m not the target audience anymore, so I also have the ability to analyze s a lot more than the younger viewers. So, the young women all decide that they can’t stand to be apart from one another for even one month, which was nauseating to watch, and convince their parents to let them all go to Barcelona. Bailon’s going to be there anyway, which she doesn’t seem to like as is, and there just happens to be a music festival going on there. Once again, they’re seeking fame, and this is a quick way to achieve that. Compete!

So, while I find this all too convenient and annoying, I roll with it. But, the trouble continues and really comes to a head once it’s realized, by no one but Raven, that they should probably start rehearsing for the competition they flew all those miles to be part of. Apparently, there wasn’t enough drama in the movie to begin with, so Raven had to take on the role of the serious, more mature person. It wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate going out and enjoying the city, but she knew they were there for one reason. To compete. So, in order to do that, practice was required. However, as this movie so wonderfully showcased, no one else could be bothered to take a few hours out of any long day and rehearse. Eventually, Bailon says, “Here we go again. Always trying to control everything.” I think my snarky comment I wrote down whilst watching that says it best:

“Because she was led to believe they’d be competing in a competition and would rehearse, so they could win? How is she out of line for expecting this from the people who wanted this and chose to be in Spain in the first place?”

There’s so much that’s baffling about the exchange, and of course the lead up. These girls are 16 or 17 years old, and by now you’d think they could manage excitement of a vacation and whatever their individual responsibilities are, to the group and themselves, or other people. Apparently not. The entire time these bits played out, and then the big confrontation, I just found myself so annoyed by the plot, but also and more importantly, by the character’s actions. What makes this whole thing worse, is that about 10 minutes later in the movie, the other girls start thinking on how badly they’ve been when it comes to rehearsing. It’s not the fact that there’s a lesson at all, it’s that it’s annoying to see how it all comes about.

Which leads me to the next biggest thing this TV movie suffers from. Predictability. Up first, is the conclusion of all this manufactured and cliché drama. Before Raven can leave to head back to the States, the other girls just happen to track her down and beg her not to leave. For a follow up conversation that should be much more heated, it isn’t. Everyone’s on their best behavior, and after about five minutes of talking, Raven’s ready and willing to forgive them and accept them as friends again! What?! Just like that? Maybe this is more telling about who I am, but I don’t buy it for a second. Stupid target audience!

One of the predictable things, involves Peregrin’s mother, who like with Whitfield’s character (she’s Raven’s mom), is competitive. She wants her daughter to do very well. But she doesn’t stop there. She eventually, in full cliché fashion, takes on the role of out and out villain. After tricking the Cheetah Girls into accepting money for a performance, which is a no-no, and disqualifies them, she’s ready for Peregrin to win! However, also in cliché and predictable fashion, she’s found out in the last few minutes of the movie, which allows for our protagonists to perform. Seriously, this is like paint by numbers or something.

Those issues aside, including the treatment of Raven’s character, who clearly has the best work ethic, there’s surprisingly a lot to appreciate about each character, and the parents. Maybe not too deep, but it’s there enough. This too gets rolled up nicely in some kind of lesson. Don’t they all?

They’re good friends, they’re loyal, and they know how to have a good time. Basically anything that you’d expect from your own friends, I’m sure. Each girl is also much more independent and can stand out more than in the first movie.

Williams’ character, for instance, doesn’t just love to learn about anything and everything, which I myself loved seeing on display, but she also has an interest in fashion and design. Bryan’s character, whom we’ve always known loves to dance, well, still mostly just dances, but on top of learning new dances, she’s finding herself attracted to some local guy, who also dances. Somehow with her it’s just refreshing to see that she can have both these interests, even if it later causes many issues with the group.

Bailon, well, she’s a mess. Not hot mess, but when you think about how she’s not some 12 or 13 year old, it makes her behavior seem less understandable. Her mother’s dating a new guy and will likely end up marrying him. This is how they all wind up in Spain. They’re there to meet him and his family, which doesn’t go so well for Bailon. She’s not a fan of his. This movie really doesn’t present it well, and at a certain point her whining and childlike behavior just gets old. Making it worse, she’s always having to go to these family events, some she seems to enjoy, and not be around for the group.

Which is how we got to the big fight I mentioned already. Another lesson, which I don’t think was even intentional in this movie, don’t over commit. Because of all these different interests and the extra drama, I did get to witness a pretty amazing moment between Raven and Whitfield. These two characters have always seemed like they have a good relationship, and it shows overall. But when Raven must go to Whitfield, it’s even deeper. Her mother’s there and helps. As far as dramatic moments in a kid’s TV movie, this one is certainly a pretty effective one, especially as I didn’t role my eyes. Most DCOMs can’t do this, not even close. It may be one brief moment, but it makes a difference. It’s also the sole moment in this movie that makes any sense.

TV movies for children, I’ll apparently never understand the appeal again. Most trailers I see for them, which thankfully is quite rare, don’t look at all appealing. In so many ways, I know what it’s like for my parents. Poor them. While this movie does take me back, and I can see why people did enjoy it then, and probably could enjoy it now, it’s not one I’m keen on revisiting again. I think, especially with it being this day, once is enough.

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