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Friday, April 6, 2007

Movies: She's the Man

She’s the Man (2006)

The plot (from IMDb): When her big brother decides to ditch for a couple weeks in London, Viola (Amanda Bynes) heads over to his elite boarding school, disguises herself as him, and proceeds to fall for one of her soccer teammates. Little does she realize she's not the only one with romantic troubles, as she, as he, gets in the middle of a series of intermingled love affairs.

This is not the first time that one of Shakespeare’s plays has been used as the basis for a teenage romantic comedy. Just a few years ago The Taming of the Shrew provided some twists for a movie call 10 Things I Hate About You, which starred a talented young Australian actor named Heath Ledger. Unfortunately, he was never heard from again. This is not even the first time that Twelfth Night has been used as the source material for just such a teen comedy. One may recall the 80’s masterpiece Just One of the Guys that launched the brilliant and illustrious career of an actress named Joyce Hyser. (Stop scratching your head. I'm being ironic.)
Amanda Bynes, who got her start doing tween sketch comedy on Nickelodeon, is given a great outlet for her comedic talents as the cross-dressing Viola. At times her performance, like much of the rest of the comedy in the movie, devolves into dumb physical humor, but it is rare enough to be forgivable. There are also some moments of pure comedic brilliance, both from Bynes and her supporting cast, that raise this above the average teenage comedy. Like 10 Things, this movie pays loving homage to its inspiration, occasionally even borrowing the Bard’s own lines here and there. There are also a lot of little in-jokes. The school is Illyria Prep. Duke’s friends are named Andrew and Toby. There’s a character name Malcolm who wears yellow socks and has a pet spider named Malvolio. (There's even a nod to King Lear. See if you can find it.) While it doesn’t hold a candle to the original work (nor does it try to), this is still a pretty good movie, and one that I’ll probably add to my collection.

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