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6 reviews, 26 user ratings

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She's the Man
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Not Too Bard, But Not Too Bad Either"
4 stars

I will admit that I slipped into the screening of the new teen-oriented comedy “She’s the Man” not exactly filled with cheer and optimism. After all, my last two experiences with watching movies featuring tweens at their center resulted in one film in which a couple of adorably gawky 13-year-old girls trying to help a bubble-headed mermaid win the undying love of a Christopher Atkins clone (imagine listening to a year’s worth of “Teen Cosmo” being read aloud by a hyperactive chipmunk) and another in which a vengeful 14-year-old girl subdues and tortures a suspected pedophile for 90 minutes (image a cross between the money scene of “Reservoir Dogs” and a Gender Studies 101 discussion group). Happily, “She’s the Man” overcomes its silly premise (and sillier commercials) and turns out to be a surprisingly entertaining romp featuring a few big laughs, more than a few smaller ones and a sprightly lead performance from starlet Amanda Bynes.

Set in a world where neither Title IX nor Mia Hamm evidently exist, Bynes stars as Viola, a budding soccer star who is crushed to learn that her school, Cornwall, has gotten rid of its girls soccer team and the sexist coach refuses to let her try out for the boys team, even though she is better than any of the other members–especially her thick-headed boyfriend. When her twin brother Sebastian (James Kirk) decides to skip out on his first two weeks at nearby Illyria Prep to play at a music festival in London, Viola decides to take advantage of her resemblance to her brother (whom no one at Illyria has ever seen) by dressing up as a boy and posing as him. Her plan is simple–she will earn a place on Illyria’s soccer team and help them defeat Cornwall when the two meet up in twelve days time. Magically, everyone at school buys her as a guy, even though a.) she never sounds like a guy, preferring instead to deepen her voice for the first couple of sentences and then reverting to her ordinary voice without anyone noticing and b.) the fact that Bynes, despite her wigs, bindings and creative explanations for her box of tampons, is less convincing as a lookalike for her brother than I am for Bynes.

In circumstances that will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen even a single episode of “Three’s Company,” Viola’s plan runs into numerous complications. For starters, she finds herself crushing on roommate/teammate Duke (Channing Tatum), the big campus stud. The trouble is, Duke is in love with the sweet Olivia (Laura Ramsey) but is too tongue-tied to do anything about it. (His idea of a successful pick-up line is “Do you like cheese?”) Viola/Sebastian offers to help him score with her but it soon transpires that Olivia is crushing on Sebastian for being the sensitive type instead of another thick-headed jock. This triangle technically becomes a triangle when Duke meets Viola in her feminine form and finds himself completely smitten with the girl he believes to be his roommate’s sister. To further complicate matters, there is an obnoxious jerk (whose idea of a successful pick-up line is “Did you know bologna is 38% hoof?”) who has his own eyes set on Olivia and is determined to stop this new interloper at all costs. In addition, Viola, as Sebastian, dumps her brother’s bitchy girlfriend (Alex Breckenridge) and finds that she won’t take no for an answer. And, as a final monkey wrench, the real Sebastian returns from England a couple of days early and can’t understand why the unknown Olivia greets him with a passionate kiss and why he finds himself on the day of the big soccer game playing a game he doesn’t know the first thing about. (To give him credit, he picked a good time to start because, when you factor in all the interruptions, surprise revelations and displays of below-the-frame nudity, this is the rare soccer game where something exciting actually happens for once.)

If you have even a halfway decent literary background, you are no doubt saying to yourself, “Hey, isn’t this basically Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ updated to the iPod generation?” and you would be correct–even the credits give the Bard an “inspired by” mention. (Of course, if you said to yourself, “Hey, isn’t this basically ‘Just One of the Guys’ updated to the iPod generation?,” it means that you spent way too much time watching cable television in the late 1980's–though the ever-fetching presence of Sherilyn Fenn makes that at least somewhat understandable and acceptable). Purists may howl but there have been quite a few reasonably inspired films that have updated classic literature for teen audiences without besmirching the originals. One of the better ones was the very funny “Taming of the Shrew” riff “10 Things I Hate About You” and it comes as no surprise to discover that the writers of that film, Karen McCullah Lutz & Kirsten Smith, worked on the screenplay here. For the most part, they succeed at maintaining the solid foundation of Shakespeare’s original work (which was admittedly one of his goofiest works) while finding plausible contemporary analogues for all of the various twists and turns (though I am not entirely sure that too many high-school carnivals still having kissing booths).

A good portion of the credit also goes to Amanda Bynes, the teen icon who doesn’t spend most of her time embarrassing herself in public with drunken escapades, canoodling with Fez or recording unlistenable CD’s. An inspired young comedienne, Bynes throws herself into the farcical situations and knockabout physical comedy without hesitation (compare her to Hilary Duff, who wouldn’t forgo the lip gloss even when she was supposed to be dowdy in “A Cinderella Story”) and comes up with a charming and totally winning performance. The film also follows the “10 Things” model by giving some of the funniest moments to a couple of the adult actors. (Remember Larry Miller as the stern father and Allison Janney as the weirdo guidance counselor?) Here, Guy Ritchie regular Vinnie Jones is hilarious as the fearsome soccer coach who gets big laughs with nothing more than a menacing glare. Even better is David Cross as the supremely bizarre school headmaster–he is frankly doing a reprise of his beloved character of Tobias from “Arrested Development,” but since it doesn’t appear that there will be any more “Arrested Development” episodes anytime soon, I was more than happy to get a little more of him.

“She’s the Man” isn’t always smooth sailing–the younger actors, save for Bynes, are serviceable at best (though Laura Ramsey is a sweet presence as Olivia), some of the more slapsticky bits go on a little too long (especially a silly debutante catfight) and it runs on for about 15 minutes after the story reaches its natural conclusion–but when it does work, which is more often than not, it comes across as a movie far smarter and funnier than it had to be. It reminded me of films like “Legally Blonde” and the underrated “Ella Enchanted” in the way that it, like those films, understands that a comedy aimed at teenagers doesn’t necessarily have to be devoted entirely to fart jokes and dumb sight gags. Even if you fall far outside of the target demographic for the film, I am guessing that you will still find it a more-than-agreeable romp that isn’t half-Bard at all.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14151&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/17/06 00:01:02
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User Comments

1/16/17 xgbvzvlia USA 2 stars
3/13/12 May Q. Horney How can she be the man? She's a man.....DUH! That's how. 3 stars
4/05/11 Jennifer Marquardt awesome movie, funny, entertaining, must see 5 stars
10/14/09 molly omg duke hot dam boii!!!! 5 stars
10/13/07 David Pollastrini Amanda Bynes is hot in this! 3 stars
12/07/06 Kourtney Allen very good movie, i would recommend 5 stars
11/12/06 cody a great romantic comedy even for guys, amanda bynes is fine and movie is cool. 4 stars
10/10/06 kristen i thought this movie was awesome i loved all the actors especially amanda aka the best 5 stars
10/01/06 Beau Amanda Bynes has great acting ability, shes so out there and has a great sense of humor 4 stars
8/13/06 Sharon this movie wasnt all I expected but I loved looking at channing tatum 4 stars
8/09/06 Felicia She's the Man *1 fn It was a Awesome & Funny Film ever Filmed 5 stars
8/06/06 she's the man fan " I found this movie over all to be very funny but it's definetly a teen comedy. 4 stars
7/29/06 San Lamar it was so funny 5 stars
7/24/06 Joyce Verhoeven I thought that the film would be nicer 3 stars
7/21/06 DHollings207 Amanda Bynes is a great talent, but this film isn't really funny 2 stars
6/21/06 julian backfece brilliant, she is stunny.. i loved her acting, sense of humor, manorisms. she has talent 5 stars
6/10/06 William Goss Entirely predictable yet surprisingly tolerable, with all the charm of a retarded puppy. 3 stars
4/26/06 tibby i thought it was funny and i really liked it 4 stars
4/20/06 Nienna better than i thought it would b 4 stars
4/10/06 Anthony Cute film but no "Mean Girls". 3 stars
4/09/06 Ron Newbold My daughter loved it - good for that age group 4 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych This concept has been done time & time again, rent "Just One Of The Guys" instead! 3 stars
3/30/06 Soha Molina no good 2 stars
3/27/06 John Aster Habig Amanda Bynes is hot, especially as a man too bad there were no lesbian scenes 4 stars
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  17-Mar-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Jul-2006



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