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 Publicity Stills of "She's the Man"
(Courtesy from Cathay-Keris Films)

Genre: Romance/Comedy
Director: Andy Fickman
Starring: Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Jonathan Sadowski
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films
Rating: PG

Release Date: 1 June 2006

Synopsis :

When a teenage girl, Viola, discovers that her soccer team has been cut from her school, she disguises herself as her twin brother and takes his place at his new boarding school for two weeks. Comedy ensues when she falls in love with her new roommate, Duke, and finds herself the object of affection of the beautiful Olivia, the girl whom Duke loves. Things get even more complicated when her twin brother, Sebastian, finally turns up.

Movie Review:

Based loosely on William Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night, this is a modern twist to the comedic classic given the teenage romantic dramedy treatment, along the lines of movies such as 10 Things I Hate About You (1999, starring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles, based upon The Taming of the Shrew), and O (2001, starring Josh Hartnett and Julia Stiles again, based upon Othello).

She's The Man utilizes the techniques in Shakespearean retellings from the mentioned movies, what with the school setting, and the conversion of O's basketball theme to football (in time for the World Cup this year of course). So while most of the character names were directly referenced from the original material, and hence those familiar with the story will probably guess who will do what, don't expect too much of the plot to dip into its rich source. After all, it's a summer offering for us locally.

But it doesn't mean that this obvious chick flick is outright boring, though it does get somewhat formulaic. Perhaps the best bits are those which you find vaguely familiar with, seen in many other movies with similar gender bending offerings. Expect the usual jokes about how a she becomes a he, and has to be accustomed to the change in mannerisms in order to throw off people she inevitably has to come into contact with. And first things first, she has to convince her dorm buddies and get acceptance as one of the frat boys first.

In a nutshell, the basis of the romantic angle is as man-made complicated as printed on the tagline: Duke wants Olivia who likes Sebastian who is really Viola whose brother is dating Monique so she hates Olivia who's with Duke to make Sebastian jealous who is really Viola who's crushing on Duke who thinks she's a guy... phew! But not to worry, it's not as bad as you think it is made out to be!

As Viola, Amanda Bynes was probably handed over a tailor made role as a football-mad player who was refused entry to the guy's football team. Desperate to now prove that she's better than half the team, she masquerades as her brother Sebastian to get into the opposing team, to do just that. So we got a mixture of He's a Woman, She's a Man, as well as football movie Goal! rolled into one. But because the focus here is on the relationships, don't expect the football
standards to be too high, even when you have Vinnie Jones as a no-nonsense coach!

The movie hinged heavily on Bynes' appeal, screen charisma and comic timing to bring across the troubles she inadvertently gets caught up with, and countless situations she would rather avoid. Supported by a whole cast of good looking teeny-boppers, it'll hold your attention as you subconsciously root for her to come through unscathed. Bynes managed to, as with gender benders, come across believably as man or woman, though her character is sometimes more
naturally man when she's a woman, and vice versa, which made it somewhat interesting to observe. If Clueless could be considered Alicia Silverstone's showreel, then She's The Man could probably be Bynes'.

With its fair share of Moments - like the catty fight in a public toilet (a favourite), and change parade madness at the fair where all the characters converge, She's The Man is a fun-filled addition to the effects laden blockbuster season with its small time charm, wit and a story that focuses on friendships, relationships, with some dose of preparatory football action. Don't expect any subtle Shakespearean tragic ending, as this movie ended in as fluffy a manner as it begun.

Movie Rating:

(It's formula, but it's a whole lot of fun!)

Review by Stefan Shih

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