So adorable, you just want to root for them

Cheerleaders (from far left) Hirona Yamazaki, Suzu Hirose and Ayami Nakajo in Let's Go Jets!
Cheerleaders (from far left) Hirona Yamazaki, Suzu Hirose and Ayami Nakajo in Let's Go Jets!PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS



121 minutes/Opens tomorrow/3/5 stars

The story: Based on true events, the movie is centred on the cheerleading squad at Japan's Fukui Chuo High School, which, despite the odds, makes it to the US Cheerleading Championships.

This is not quite the Japanese version of Bring It On (2000), despite their common theme of high school cheerleading.

Unlike the Hollywood movie starring Kirsten Dunst, now considered a cult favourite, this is less about creative cheerleading sequences and more about the drama among the cheerleaders.

There is plenty of it, as the emo one gets ostracised, the chubby one faces insecurity issues and the rich brat looks down on the rest.

There is so much going on among so many girls here that none of them are given enough screen time to become fully realised characters.

Subplots involving the girls' uncaring parents and unrequited crushes go nowhere.

Their teacher (played by Yuki Amami) fares even worse. She is continually referred to by everyone as the "teacher from Hell", but one never knows why, given how she is always seen just standing around looking pretty.

The most "horrible" thing she does is apparently forcing her students to clip up their hair during practice (some members even quit the group because of this).

As with most sports movies, there is little suspense as the story checks off all the cliches of an unlikely bunch of people beating the odds and emerging triumphant, complete with a standard training montage.

Still, there is enough charm and earnestness to make this team worth rooting for. Doe-eyed lead actress Suzu Hirose, in turns sweet and goofy, is especially likeable.

Never mind that most of the girls are not the best dancers around. They are convincing as a group of people who genuinely care for one another. Plus, they look adorable in their uniforms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 15, 2017, with the headline 'So adorable, you just want to root for them'. Print Edition | Subscribe