I’m a huge Amanda Bynes fan. She is cute. She is smart. She is funny. Most of all, she is actually an excellent role model for today’s youth. We can’t say that about most of her cohorts in Hollywood. So whenever she makes a new movie, I’m there! Her most recent film “She’s the Man,” is absolutely delightful.
In a very loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” this movie centers on Viola (Bynes), a high school teenager who is a bit of a jock. She is, in fact, her soccer team’s secret weapon. However, when the girl’s soccer team is eliminated from her school, Viola asks to try out for the boy’s team. Much to her chagrin, the coach turns her down. To add insult to injury, her boyfriend laughs at the suggestion. However, as it happens Viola’s twin brother Sebastian (played by James Kirk) who also plays soccer, decides to go to London with his band instead of starting school at the beginning of the year, So Viola decides to disguise herself as her brother and attend his private school. She is convinced that, if she can show the coach that she can play as well as the boys, her school coach might let her play on her school’s team.
Having not through the entire process thoroughly, it doesn’t occur to Viola that she might fall for a jock at her brother’s school. She, of course, does just that; in this case a boy named Duke (played by Channing Tatum). She even ends up being assigned as Duke’s roommate, which of course opens up a whole new can of worms and many delightful situations that are jam-packed with hilarity. As luck would have it, though, Duke has a crush on Olivia (played by Laura Ramsey) – – the most beautiful girl in school – – who, in turn, has a crush on Sebastian (Viola’s disguised self). At first she tries to help Duke land the girl of his dreams. He, in turn, helps her to become an ever better soccer player. However, as time goes on, Viola realizes that she wants her roommate for herself. That is when all of the real fun begins; further egged on when Sebastian comes back from London two days early to discover that his sister has taken over his life.
The script, written by Ewan Leslie, Karne Mcullah Lutz, and Kirsten Smith is certainly fun. However, the concept is obviously nothing new. Many movies have dealt with the subject of gender switching with one of the most notable being the 1985 film “Just One of the Guys.” This is just a slightly rehashed version of an age-old concept. Likewise, I didn’t feel anything new or find anything exciting about the direction of the film, which had Andy Frickman at the helm.
The star of this film is Bynes. She has so much talent, energy, natural charm, and effervescence that you are forced to wonder if there is anything this girl cannot do. She is amazingly adept at physical comedy, which is reminiscent of the late Lucille Ball in her early years on the big screen. She brings her entire arsenal of tricks to this role and tackles it with full force, making her just about irresistible.
Tatum was competent in the role of Duke but didn’t really offer anything special in his performance. Although he really had little screen time, Kirk took advantage of the time he had and showed an easy comedic talent as well. Likewise, Ramsey’s Olivia was fun to watch with a natural vulnerability that played well for her character.
The adult roles were all handled deftly by Julie Hagerty, as the clueless mother of the twins; Vinnie Jones who lends authenticity as the soccer coach; and David Cross who makes the most of his clueless headmaster role.
I loved this movie. I laughed often and I laughed loud. It was just plain funny and lots of fun! I give it four out of five stars; mostly just for the delightful Amanda Bynes alone.
“She’s the Man” is 105 minutes in length and carries a PG-13 rating for some sexual situations. It is a DreamWorks Picture in conjunction with Empire Movies.