She's the Man
The opening credits of
She's the Man say that the film is based on William Shakespeare's play
The Twelfth Night. This may even be technically true.
Granted, it is a very, very loose translation, but how faithful was O
to Othello or 10 Things I Hate About You to The Taming of
the Shrew? Using the skeleton of classical literature to create
teen entertainment is nothing new. West Side Story was doing it
almost 50 years ago and Clueless brought the style up to date for a
new generation about a decade in the past.
Really, though, there is
nothing classical or pretentious about She's the Man, except perhaps
for the occasional debutante ball and the odd choice to use classical music
during the rare fight scenes which pop up. Actually, if you get
technical, She's the Man is much more akin to Just One of the Guys
-- an underrated and rather clever 1980s teen sex comedy -- without the
gratuitous nudity so it can attract star Amanda Bynes tween-age base.
(And no, I don't remember whether Just One of the Guys claimed to be
based on Shakespeare, but who knows?) Truthfully, the storyline has
been done hundreds of times over the years -- in films as varied as
Tootsie and Yentl.
What I Like About You, formerly known for All That and The
Amanda Show) plays Viola, a female soccer star in a school where the
girls' team has been scuttled due to budgetary constraints. When the
boys' team refuses her a tryout, she decides to pretend to be a boy -- more
specifically her brother, Sebastian -- to get to play on his school's team.
Luckily for her, Sebastian had been expelled from their school and then
decided to run off to London to play with his band for a few weeks rather
than go to the new school. TV star Bynes (currently of
Since no one has seen
Sebastian, Viola is able to blend in as much as possible as a guy --
attracting girls who see her as a sensitive boy and falling for her
roommate, who also seems interested in Viola when she is seen as a girl.
Confusing, huh? Of
course this has all the problems of this style of film. Viola and
Sebastian do look somewhat alike, but not that much that when Sebastian
returns everyone would still not notice the difference. Their divorced
parents (Julie Hagerty and John Pyper-Ferguson) are horribly self-absorbed
-- so interested in the country club and the debutante ball that they do not
notice that BOTH of their children are not where they are supposed to be for
two whole weeks.
Yet, I do have to admit it,
I really enjoyed She's the Man. Sure, it's formulaic, but it is
fun and the audience it is courting will not know its sources. Amanda
Bynes is adorable and funny in the role. Everyone ends up happy.
Even the super-nerdy girl finds true love. What's not to like?
the Man has a pure heart and succeeds on its own level brilliantly.
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Posted: April 5, 2006.