*. I know what youre thinking. After all, I kicked off my notes on 10 Things I Hate About You, another blend of Shakespeare with high school rom-com, by saying I wasn’t a big fan of the genre. But here we are again with the Bard translated to a sunny American high school, this time the inspiration coming by way of Twelfth Night.
*. Well, sometimes I go soft. The fact is, I liked 10 Things I Hate About You and I liked She’s the Man. This is an altogether lighter film, but it’s good natured and sweet in a way that doesn’t cloy, moves very well, and is far more enjoyable than its generally poor critical reception would lead you to believe. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, but has charm to burn and never drags despite being pure formula.
*. Viola Hastings (Amanda Bynes) plays soccer on her school’s team, but when the girls’ program gets shut down she has to move to cross-town rival Illyria disguised as a boy (specifically as her scapegrace twin brother Sebastian) so she can have her revenge. At Illyria she falls in love with soccer stud Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum), while the school sweetheart Olivia falls for her because s/he’s such a sensitive boy and understands how girls feel.
*. None of this is credible for a moment. Bynes can’t pass for a boy. She’s three inches shorter than the actor playing her brother, just for starters. But as Roger Ebert put it, “I didn’t for one second believe the plot of She’s the Man, but I did believe for the entire movie that Amanda Bynes was lovable.” I mean, she doesn’t really act beyond making her eyes go wide when something is supposed to be surprising her and clearing her throat when she forgets to deepen her voice, but it works because she’s just adorable.
*. As 10 Things introduced us to Heath Ledger, this film introduces Channing Tatum. I think he was coming fresh off a Mountain Dew commercial. He doesn’t do much in the acting department either, but he is first revealed to us with his shirt off and that’s all he needed even this early in his career. Some concerns were registered at his being 26 years old and playing a high school student (Bynes was 19), but he’d be going back to high school again six years later in 21 Jump Street so he clearly has no trouble passing.
*. The supporting cast is solid too. Vinnie Jones is the hard-as-nails coach of the soccer team. David Cross is the principal. Julie Hagerty is Viola’s mom, trying to get her daughter into a poofy gown for the big debutante party. Are those still a big thing? I thought the kissing booth at the fair seemed a little off as well. And of course calling someone a “be-yotch” was something that only lasted for the month this movie came out.
*. Taking this matter of timeliness a bit further, I wonder if a movie like this would even be possible today. We’re so much more uptight about gender issues. But here we just skate over any trouble spots. Viola, still presenting as Sebastian, declaring her love for Duke only gets a puzzled look in return as he tells her “that’s . . . weird.” Not even gay. Just weird. And it’s all OK in the end because she’s going to get glammed up and go to the debutante ball with him before . . . heading off to play soccer together. She shoots, she scores!
I take back my “precocious” statement. I think you were kicked in the head by a draft horse or something. How else can you explain liking this but throwing shade on the Incredibles?
Bynes is cute trying to be a boy and it’s all very sweet. It doesn’t try to be adult like The Incredibles! Sometimes movies need to stay in their lane.
What does ‘poofy’ mean in Canada?
I don’t know why Shakespeare even bothers getting out of bed. Tatum should make more GI Joe Rise of the Cobra movies and stop wasting out time with such mediocrity.
And where is your review of What A Girl Wants? You are little more than an Amanda Byrne lightweight…
Does Amanda (Bynes) play a boy in What a Girl Wants? I can check it out.
There may be some regional differences in the meaning of poofy. I was using it here to mean puffy with layers of material. I think in the UK poofy might have other connotations.
Well you had me at Channing with his shirt off!
He’s a lot leaner here. Not the bulked up Channing he turned into.
That’s fine, still good!
Chaninning Tatum has the face and screen presence of a potato, so, no.
He does have some spud-like qualities, I’ll grant you.
Oh my goodness. This is a huge throwback. It used to be rerun on YTV (TV channel) so often throughout my childhood. It didn’t make it any better with each viewing though.
Yes, I can’t imagine it improves much on subsequent viewings. It’s a nice little movie though to enjoy once.