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SHE'S THE MAN
U.S. Release Date: March 17, 2006
Distributor: Paramount (DreamWorks)
Director: Andy Fickman
Writer: Karen McCullah Lutz, Kirsten Smith
Producer: Lauren Schuler Donner, Gary Lucchesi (executive), Tom Rosenberg (executive)
Cast: Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Vinnie Jones, David Cross, Amanda Crew, Jessica Lucas
Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (some sexual material)

Cross-Dressing Comedy Heaps on the Fun
by Scott Holleran

The surprisingly funny She's the Man bops onto screens in an update of William Shakespeare's cross-dressing Twelfth Night and, while no one will mistake it for the original, the wispy little picture is a hoot. Credit a pint-sized leading lady named Amanda Bynes (Robots), who has the perfect face for the part—sweet, innocent and a button nose.

The plot is pure piffle with some Title IX nonsense about girls' sports being equal in ability to boys' sports and perky Bynes plays Viola, a good high school soccer player who decides to pose as a boy to pursue her passion. It's a long story but the movie's better away, far away, from the soccer field.

Things start off with not a shred of plausibility as we walk through the usual set-up to these switch comedies. Her divorced mother (Julie Hagerty, the stewardess in Airplane) is a flake who wants tomboy Viola to wear dresses, her father lives across town, conveniently providing cover for Viola's gender-bending, and her prep school bound twin brother wants to be a rock musician so badly he sneaks off to London, conveniently leaving an identity to his sister.

No, they don't look like twins—unless twins were born several years apart—yet, true to form, a gay friend provides the transformation, which includes a wig and lessons in how to act, talk and walk like a boy—an athletic prep school boy to boot—and this is the funniest part of She's the Man because director Andy Fickman has the good sense—and killer timing—to just let her be ridiculous. Viola as a male high school jock is like that smallish boy in the back of the class who went through puberty a few years later than everyone else did.

It works thanks to Bynes, Fickman's sense of play—Viola gets a lot out of grunting in that hip-hop gibberish common among today's kids, such as that shrill incoming wail "wassup!"—and good sight gags. It is never for a moment convincing, which is part of why it's fun. Fickman lets you in on the joke.

How could it be otherwise with a prep school that seems more like USC with the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and a principal as dumb as a post and a band of jocks—including the male romantic interest, Duke (Channing Tatum of Coach Carter)—looking older than half the NFL? But the crazy kid makes it stick, with bits of this and that peppered throughout the movie that snowball into something hilarious.

Viola falls for Duke, showers on the sly, dodges a romance with hot blonde Olivia, while ditching her twin brother's real girlfriend and putting her mom's interest in girly things to good use. A nerd named Malcolm threatens to spoil the charade during the big soccer game, when Viola—as her brother of course—is on the verge of scoring one for the girls.

Toss in an ugly girl with braces, Duke's crush on Olivia and a child's divorced parents wish fulfillment, and there's a whole heap of fun to be had in this slight, silly and ticklish light comedy.

Buy on DVD
DVD Notes
A music video, an audio commentary, deleted scenes, a gag reel and a behind-the-scenes bit—the DVD release for the teeny-bopper She's the Man offers the regular menu of disc options.

This spunky little picture works because adorable Amanda Bynes keeps the gender-bender part fresh and fun. The funniest scenes involve her trying to act how she thinks a boy behaves. But the making-of feature highlights the movie's soccer, not the outrageous makeover, with long stretches of actors in practice, in play and explaining athletic terms. A pert piece pays homage to Shakespeare, but that's barely four minutes. Obviously, those in charge calculated that the sports angle would account for any box office success and they were wrong, making this a textbook lesson why at least some of the DVD extras should be made after the movie has played in theaters, not entirely during production.


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