Made: The Movie” is a pretty awful title — honest, it’s not about the Mafia — for a reasonably good MTV production, one rooted in the familiar if always fertile soil of high school’s de facto caste system. Graced with some snappy dialogue and solid performances by the youthful cast (as in Charlie Brown cartoons, adults are virtually invisible), think of this underdog tale as a Canadian companion to “Glee,” albeit substituting cheerleading for the elaborate production numbers.
Saddled with a ridiculous nickname, poor Tuba (Cyrina Fiallo) is a self-described “popularity-challenged band geek” who harbors an improbable dream: to make the cheerleading squad.
Fortunately, her brother Marshall (Brett Dier), a basketball star, is dating the head cheerleader, Andi (Rachel Skarsten), who grudgingly agrees to coach her. An unlikely friendship ensues between the two girls, even if that alienates Tuba from her fellow geeks and earns Andi scorn from the popular mean girls, led by fellow cheerleader Tiffany (Ashley Leggat).
One needn’t be able to turn a back handspring to see where this is going to land, and as written by Wendy and Amy Engelberg from Angie Day’s teleplay, there are too many heartfelt “Hey, listen up, fellow students in the cafeteria” speeches that spell out the larger lessons about cliques and prejudging, just in case you’ve somehow missed them. At the end, they even explain the title in almost absurdly literal terms. (Apparently, the network of “Jersey Shore” assumes its viewers operate on about that level.)
Still, under Samir Rehem’s direction, Fiallo and Skarsten do a fine job bringing dimension and vulnerability to their thinly drawn characters, and there are enough decent lines — as in “We suck so hard we should be in ‘Twilight’?” — to speak to a youthful audience.
If only MTV trusted them to sink their teeth into something that aimed a little bit higher.