Tuesday, April 11, 2006

She's the Man

SHE’S THE MAN (Andy Fickman, 2006)

If Shakespeare were a middling modern day screenwriter asked to pen a tween gender switch comedy, the result might be SHE'S THE MAN, sort of JUST ONE OF THE GUYS via the Bard. Like 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, one of Shakespeare's play serves as the basis for a high school romantic comedy. SHE’S THE MAN retains the character names and scenarios from TWELFTH NIGHT and updates it for a generation weaned on MTV.

With her high school girls’ soccer team eliminated and a spot on the boys’ team unavailable to her, Viola (Amanda Bynes) is seemingly out of options to play the game she loves. When her brother Sebastian (James Kirk) asks that she cover for him while he sneaks away to London for a couple weeks, Viola takes the opportunity to pose as him and earn a spot on his prep school’s team. Things get complicated when Viola falls for her roommate Duke (Channing Tatum), who is interested in Olivia (Laura Ramsey), who has a crush on Viola as Sebastian.

At no point is Bynes convincing as a boy, which is where some of the comedy lies. For instance, with the help of friends she convinces her soccer teammates that her gawky alter ego is a stud. SHE’S THE MAN becomes preoccupied with whether Viola’s secret will be revealed, leading to one exhausting sequence after another in which either she momentarily "forgets" she’s Sebastian or must be in the same place as herself and her brother.

David Cross and Vinnie Jones add some laughs as the school’s principal and soccer coach. In general, SHE’S THE MAN is cleverer than the average teen movie, but it gets so wrapped up in plot mechanics that it loses the characters.

Grade: C

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