She's the Man

2007-04-14 12:12
 
Synopsis:

Viola Johnson (Amanda Bynes) isn’t much like the other girls at her school. To her mother’s dismay she cares far more about making the soccer team than her upcoming debutant ball. So when her school decides to cut the girls’ team, and refuses to let her try out for the boys’ team, she concocts a daring plan. She will disguise herself as her twin brother Sebastian (James Kirk) and take his place at his new school, Illyria Prep. Since Sebastian has escaped to London to break into the music scene, Viola has plenty of time to get herself onto the team in time to prove herself against her own school, Cornwall. What she hasn’t counted on is falling for her roommate, Duke (Channing Tatum), who only has eyes for the beautiful Olivia (Laura Ramsey), who in turn is immediately attracted to this new guy “Sebastian”.

Review:

It takes a special kind of genius to make a movie for teenagers that neither condescends nor imitates, but actually speaks to them like human beings. John Hughes directed a whole string of them in the ‘80s, classics like Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Breakfast Club. Watching a fluffy, flavourless affair like She’s the Man, you can’t help but long for those days.

It’s not that Hollywood has forgotten how to make good teen films, it’s just that they are now the exception rather than the rule. One of the better examples from the last decade, 10 Things I Hate About You, was even written by the same people as She’s The Man. So what went wrong?

For all its familiarity the subject matter isn’t really at fault. Both movies are based on Shakespeare plays – “Twelfth Night” in the case of She’s The Man - though you’d hardly be able to tell unless you specifically looked out for the clues. These “adaptations” seem mostly like a convenient excuse to give characters and places unusual names like Duke Orsino and Illyria. That said, The Bard’s plots are still as relevant today as they were in the 16th Century, which explains their continued popularity.

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.

val 2006/12/21 10:42 AM
go 4 it! its a tipical teen movie that we are looking for. Comedy and love but its all in a twist! love it! go 4 it!
anyataya 2006/12/24 7:16 PM
sex movies I want to look any movies.
caitlin 2006/12/29 9:31 AM
GO 'N WATCH IT this was a fun and exiting movie it didn't need sex
dustin 2007/01/03 3:59 AM
not too bad i reckon if you are between the ages of 12 and 18 then this movie is gonna be great! who wants "cosmic significance" in the cinema!
Kaitlin 2007/01/18 2:20 PM
And your point is? Who cares, the main thing is that its got Channing Tatum in the movie - thats good enough!!
Rhodi 2007/02/08 12:35 PM
Loved It! Personally I thoroughly enjoyed it... It was lighthearted and fun, plus it had the gorge Channing Tatum and hilarious Amanda Bynes...
Myia 2007/04/04 5:45 PM
ok her name is Viola Hastings, NOT Viola Johnson.... Stupid people if you are going to write a rev. get the fricken names right....SHEESH!!!!
DIANE 2007/05/21 10:07 AM
THIS MOVIE IS GREAT!!!! I THINK THIS MOVIE WAS REALLY FUNNY!! ALTHOUGH, THERE WASN'T ANY BIG LOVE SCENES OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. IT CERTAINLY WAS EASY ON THE EARS AND EYES AND DEFINTELY BRIGHTENED MY DAY.TODAY A BREAK FROM REALITY IS ALWAYS GOOD ESPECAILLY WHEN YOU LAUGH TOO.
BRIDGET 2007/05/21 10:11 AM
HOT!!!!! EVERYONE SHOULD DEFINITELY WATCH THIS MOVIE. IT WAS FUNNY AND SWEET. AMANDA BYNES WAS HILARIOUS AND CHANNING TATUM WAS REALLY HOT!!!
ashley 2007/08/06 8:51 PM
she's the man it was a really good movie i loved it. i relized it was based on shakesphere but sooooo much better. i love channing he rocks!! he's soooooooooooooooooooo hot!!!!!! baut all actors were amazing!!!!!!!!!!!! make a second movie pleasssssssssssse. mwa
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