Wednesday, March 15, 2006

My sister was a bit perplexed when I suggested that we watch She's the Man in the theaters. I saw end part of the trailer earlier (the one with the football hitting the disguised Amanda Bynes on the nether regions and she reacts belatedly to the "pain") and I thought it looked promising. Good thing the gamble paid off in huge dividends too! FYI, this movie had a lot in common with the 1998 movie, which I also enjoyed, Shakespeare In Love mostly because it was also based on the play of the original romantic-comedy writer, the progenitor of let's-dress-as-the-opposite-sex-just-for-the-heck-of-it, William Shakespeare's The Twelfth Night.

Just in case you missed it the story begins when the high school female soccer varsity team lead by Viola (Amanda Bynes) got cut out of the school's coming semester in favor of beefing up the lacrosse team. Infuriated with the sexist tinged shallow reasons by the coach for cutting off the team punctuated with the embarrassing denials made by her boyfriend, Justin (Robert Hoffman), who also happens to be the captain of the men's team, she sought a way of proving that they're as good as the others are. At about the same time her twin brother, Sebastian (James Kirk) cut two weeks off his new school, the rival school of her soccer team no less, and snuck out to London, England to attend the final round of a band competition. She siezes this opprotunity as the idea of taking his place in school comes to mind, that way she could join the soccer varsity, prove her point and get back at the other team for laughing at her. Plus she could keep her brother, who has problems with his attendance, out of trouble in the new school! What could be more convenient than that? She has her work cut out for her and all she has to do is successfully pull off an act that would put the wool on not only her schoolmates' eyes but also her new teammates who also happens to be her boardmates too. Which she does with no sweat at all which makes you think that she either has a background in theater or the whole school needs to visit the local optalmologist. Initially they thought this new kid looked a lot geeky to be on the team so they alternately ignored and bullied her. However, she managed to pull a stunt that propelled her ratings to the popular stratosphere which she thought would result in smooth sailing for thereon. She didn't count on locker room showers, team initiations, and mistaken identities, and the most beautiful girl on campus falling in love with her. Viola had to resort to evasive tactics which resulted in great comedy among which included the initial awkwardness in getting to know her new boardmates:
Viola: Do you guys play? Bros...brothers..Brethren?
Reactions to accidents that could blow her cover like the belated reaction to her getting hit in the crotch with a soccer ball:
Viola: Oh... right. OWWWW! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! IT BURNS!!!!!
Things also got more complicated when she began to fall for her roommate. There were times she would forget she was in disguise like the time he opened up his problems to what he thought would offer male advice went like:
Duke: I just have troubles takin' to girls.
Viola: Dude, you're hot. I mean you're an attractive guy.. man...guymen...guy-man.
A lot of the comedy situations work mostly because of Ms. Byne's comedic skills honed over a decade now (she started acting when she was 10 years old in Nickelodeon's skit show "All That") rather than the cast's able assistance. What I don't get are the American viewers' constant comparison of this movie to Mean Girls which is very far and different from what the plot is all about. The latter is about wanting to belong and finding one's place in a society prone to the cruel dictates of high school cliques, something that other teen movies like Heathers, Clueless, and Jawbreaker tackled. I also understand that most of the characters' names and sub-plots were preserved from the original which thankfully upped the enjoyable factor for this movie. In fact this one's comparable to another Shakespeare inspired teen movie, 10 Things I Hate About You which also turned out to be quite a surprise (which was based on "Taming of the Shrew"). I also think part of the factor that contributed greatly to this movie's greatness is the fact that scriptwriters, Ewan Leslie, Karen McCullah Lutz, & Kirsten Smith didn't stereotype the characters nor did they dumb things down. Director Andy Fickman should also be credited for doing a great job with this one. I sure hope somebody in Hollywood would do an update on A Midsummer's Night's Dream which should be done the way it should not like the snoozefest with Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, and Calista Flockhart. So unlike the theater play I saw years before that which had me rolling in the aisles. Maybe we could have Ms. Bynes, Mr. Ledger and Director Andy Fickman do it, that would be a riot for sure.

* Add this movie to your MySpace account.
** Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

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