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Rated 2.97 stars
by 2135 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Barring the Bard
by Adam Hakari

I thought Hollywood was finished with the whole "Shakespeare by way of teeny-bopper comedies" trend years ago. But I guess She's the Man, inspired by the Bard's Twelfth Night, proves me wrong. Unfortunately, this means we're probably one step closer to seeing Hilary Duff toplining as Lady Macbeth someday.

Although the experience of sitting through this film is a tragedy, the basis for She's the Man is one of Shakespeare's comedic works. Our heroine is Viola (Amanda Bynes), a bright and spunky young woman whose greatest passion in life is playing soccer. But after her high school cuts the girls' soccer team and won't let her try out for the guys' team, Viola finds herself taking drastic measures to prove her worthiness on the field. When her twin brother Sebastian (James Kirk) skips town to hang out in London for two weeks, Viola seizes the opportunity to pose as her brother while attending his school in his place in order to make the soccer team, hoping to defeat her own school in the opening game of the season.

There's just one complication...well, actually, there are numerous complications. As Sebastian, Viola finds herself falling in love with "his" roommate, Duke (Channing Tatum), who wants "Sebastian's" help in convincing the beautiful Olivia (Laura Ramsey) to go out with him. But as it turns out, Olivia only comes onto Duke to make "Sebastian" jealous and ask her out instead, and in the meantime, the real Sebastian's psychotic ex -- Monique (Alex Breckenridge) -- won't stop hanging around. Things become increasingly complex (not to mention a lot more boring) when the real Sebastian returns.

Proving the theory that much of a film's success relies on the execution of the story, She's the Man shows how inept it can be when the filmmakers screw up with material inspired by the Bard, who -- of course -- couldn't have envisioned his play being remade centuries later as a teen comedy that climaxes with The Big Game and includes, I kid you not, scenes showing people shoving tampons up their noses.

She's the Man is yet another bland, sitcommy flick whose sense of humor depends upon the supporting characters being such doofuses that they can't see through the lead character's obvious ruse in two seconds (the fact that Viola talks in her normal voice about two-thirds of the time anyway while still fooling everyone around her indicates something frightening about the other characters' intelligence).

I realize Viola's disguise isn't supposed to be convincing, that the humor comes from the situations she finds herself in, but when you have a series of worn-out pratfalls on one side and the most oblivious, boneheaded characters in the world on the other, there's no pleasure to be had in sitting through it all. 

Bynes has a colorful personality, professional tough guy actor Vinnie Jones pops up as a soccer coach, and David Cross, a man whose style by this point can be defined just by mentioning his name, pitches in an appearance, but watching them try to work with such hokey material and under the restraint of a mild "PG-13 rating is like hiring Quentin Tarantino to direct Doogal. 

This movie is harmless and has occasional charm, but in the end, after seeing what director Andy Fickman (the man behind last year's brilliant musical version of Reefer Madness) does with the material, one can't help wishing that She's the Man turned out to be, like Shakespeare's play, an observant elaboration on male/female stereotypes and gender expectations instead of the silly comedy it is. 

MY RATING: * 1/2 (out of ****)

(Released by DreamWorks and rated "PG-13" for some sexual material.)

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