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She's the Man

Reviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 07/18/06 15:39:28

"No, she's not."
1 stars (Sucks)

Much has been made of how the dopey teen comedy “She’s the Man” is an updating of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” but little has been made over the more obvious connection: the 1985 teen comedy “Just One of the Guys.” Both films involve bright young women battling prejudice and chauvinism by dressing up like dudes and succeeding where they were previously not allowed to even try. It was a weak, outdated idea back in the Reagan years; what made anybody possibly think it’d still be worth a spin in 2006?

The only thing I fully remember from “Just One of the Guys,” other than its provocative football-helmets-covering-up-her-chest poster, is the scene where the best friend character teaches the heroine how to walk like a guy, making sure to adjust one’s junk every few steps. (A ball of socks stuffed down her pants adds to the effect.) It’s an embarrassing moment of 80s teen cinema, yet it’s ten times more clever than anything “She’s the Man” has to offer.

For here we get Amanda Bynes, that former Nickelodeon starlet, pretending to be her brother yet often forgetting she’s doing so, thus leading to scene after scene in which: a) Bynes says something girly, coughs, then says it again in a macho deep voice, hoping nobody will notice (they don’t, because they’re morons); b) Bynes gets really close to her roommate, whom she has the hots for, only to have them break it up and be all grossed out, because dude, that’s, like, so freaking gay; c) Bynes has to come up with quick excuses for having things like tampons around, leading to eye-rollingly awful punchlines; and/or d) Bynes has to avoid taking a shower, because she got so excited about joining the boys’ soccer team that she forgot she might have to undress around them at some point. In short, this is a movie about idiots falling in love with other idiots.

While I’m making lists… In order to get to its high concept, the movie must get us to believe that: a) Bynes, who is very unconvincing a soccer player, is the star of the school; b) despite this, lack of funding means the girls’ soccer team has been cut; c) the girls are not allowed to try out for the boys’ team simply because “girls can’t play soccer;” d) Bynes’ dumbass brother and his rock band somehow land a big gig in London; e) Bynes would agree to covering up for him by actually pretending to be him; f) nobody notices Bynes’ absence while she’s busy spending two weeks dressed up as her brother; g) nobody can tell the siblings apart, even with the differences in height, build, voice, behavior, and looks; and h) any of this is enough to keep up watching all the way to the closing credits. Oh, and i) the prep school dorms are just like those party dorms you see in all the movies, where all the guys love to blare their rock and roll while tossing around the football in the hallway, making it impossible for anyone to walk all the way to his room.

Because two of the screenwriters also penned “10 Things I Hate About You” (another Shakespeare teen upgrade), “She’s the Man’ spends too much of its running time trying to copy that film’s success. And so we get comic relief in the form of dopey grown-ups - David Cross, Vinnie Jones, and Julie Hagerty, for those keeping score - only this time, there’s not an ounce of wit to the yuks. Cross goes on autopilot to play up his buffoon character (he’s the idiotic headmaster); when the smartest joke involves him being bald but having a full beard, you know you’re in trouble.

The whole damn movie’s stuck on autopilot, stealing so much not only from the Bard, but from other dumbass teen movies that came before. The utter absence of humor, charm, originality, or intelligence leaves this to rank among the worst of all recent teen comedies. There’s not a single likeable character, and not a single watchable one. Director Andy Fickman (“Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical,” “Who’s Your Daddy?”) plays every joke as broad as it can get, ignoring details like comic timing or even mere humor, while the screenplay relies on the most hackneyed material (the make-up expert is queer!) just to get by. “She’s the Man” is obnoxious and moronic in every frame. Oh, for the subtle interplay between Joyce Hyser and Billy Jayne…

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