She’s the Man showcases a silly but intriguing premise that needs to rely heavily on the strength of the actors to displace some of the disbelief of Amanda Bynes clumsily going incognito in the newest Teen-Movie-Does-Shakespeare.
Bynes plays Viola, a soccer-loving teenager whose team is disbanded due to lack of numbers. Viola thinks it only natural to join the male soccer team but after her boyfriend (soon to be ex) pulls out some ham-fisted chauvinism, and after her twin brother, Sebastian (James Kirk) asks her to cover for him at the rival school (and his new school) while he heads to London with his band for two weeks, Viola decides to take Sebastian’s place at school, wow the soccer team, go toe-to-toe with her sexist ex in the big game and prove that girls are just are good as guys. Of course, she manages to fall in love with her new roommate, the hunky Duke (Channing Tatum) who is also on the team.
For those of us who were of any age in the late 80s or even the early 90s when Just One of the Guys ran endlessly on Comedy Central, it’s almost impossible not to compare the two films. However, Dreamworks isn’t marketing this film to a generation now in their mid-30s. It’s just as well, since although there are some scenes in She’s the Man that practically duplicate its predecessor, this is an entertaining, if hollow, comedy. It doesn’t capture any of the teenage nuances that Amy Heckerling’s Clueless did, but She’s the Man seems happiest when it’s at its silliest. Granted, Bynes mugs it a bit too much when she first makes the gender bending transition but she grows more comfortable as Viola’s life grows more chaotic.
There are several laugh-out-loud moments courtesy of some purely over the top humor lacking any subtlety, yet She’s the Man is a pleasant surprise. Glossy Hollywood films looking for an older audience could do worse than to follow in She’s the Man steps. Keep it simple-stupid; make us laugh and the audience will come.
This review originally appeared in Entertainment Today.