But a strong plot needs an equally strong execution to make it work. Cross-dressing films, in particular, need to work harder than normal to maintain credibility. If we aren’t convinced by the heroine’s transformation, why should any of the other characters be? Amanda Bynes is a marvellous, ebullient young actress with great potential, but she’d sooner make a convincing turnip than a beefy soccer player.
Oh, they’ve studiously bound up her ample curves (how uncomfortable must that be?), they’ve padded out her shoulders, given her sideburns and instructed her to deliver her lines in inane gangsta-rap tones, but you’d have to be blind and deaf not to clock her as a girl at 25 paces. Besides, she’s far too goofy and petite to even make a convincing female soccer player, let alone someone who would be picked for the senior high-school team.
Still, true to form, Bynes still gives her all to the part. As she bounces around the film like a hyperactive squirrel, you can see her palpably straining to make something of this deeply dumb role. And she’s not getting much help from her vacuous supporting cast, most of whom were selected for looks rather than talent (Channing Tatum – we mean you). Throwing in the wonderfully quirky David Cross (from TV’s Arrested Development) does nothing to alleviate the problem, nor does yet another dose of Vinnie Jones acting as himself.
These sins might have been forgiven if the movie had one ounce of tension, sexual or otherwise, to keep us interested. As it stands this is a plot entirely devoid of consequences, and therefore of excitement. Things amble along good naturedly, there’s nothing real on the line, no great passions or fears, just a comforting fantasy world in which everything is bound to work out in the end.
And it’s here the filmmakers have really missed the boat. To teenagers everything about their lives is epic or tragic, everything they do has cosmic significance. John Hughes understood this, as did Cameron Crowe when he wrote the classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High. They understood that their movies didn’t have to mean anything very profound – they just had to mean it sincerely. The only thing sincere about She’s the Man is its desire to separate us from the cost of a theatre ticket.
- Alistair Fairweather
Yet another brainless teen version of a Shakespeare play - this time involving soccer and cross dressing. The Bard would be so proud.
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