Throughout history when script writers are looking for ideas they turn to Shakespeare for inspiration. I think it's safe to say that every play of his has made it to the silver screen in some form or another so it should be no surprise to find out that She's the Man is a modern twist on Twelfth Night. The movie follows the play's plot quite closely featuring character names and a light translation for the overall meaning of the story. The only problem is as teen comedies go She's the Man doesn't hit it out of the park. It probably has to do with the fact that the premise has been overdone to death since Shakespeare originally came up with it.
The adorable Amanda Bynes is cast in the lead role as Viola and is easily the only reason to like this film. The range of her acting isn't very deep and it's not like she has the best material to work with, but her presence just makes the movie more entertaining. She easily outshines the rest of the cast here though to be frank that's not saying much.
In this tale of sexual equality and love, Viola's slippery slope begins when her school kills off the girl's soccer program. Quite brazenly the coach goes off on a tangent about how girls can't do anything and if you want to win a soccer game you need to have an all boys team. To make things even worse for Viola, her jerk boyfriend (the captain of the boy's team) sides with the coach on the suckiness of females in general. Ticked off with the unfairness of it all and betrayed by her significant other Viola sees an opportunity to get back at both when her twin brother Sebastian (James Kirk) sneaks off to London.
Since Sebastian was supposed to be enrolling in a new school Viola takes the opportunity to get a makeover. With some coaching from her friends she dons a wig and learns to behave like a man; an effeminate looking and awkward man, but a man still the same. Unconvincingly Viola becomes Sebastian and does her best to sound and talk like one of the guys. Her ultimate goal is to not only pull of the impersonation well but to join the soccer team and beat the snot out of her old school and boyfriend.
She makes it through the tryouts and with a little bit of training from her roommate, Duke, she makes first string on the team. Now, here's where things get whacky and Jerry Springer-like. Viola, as Sebastian, unwittingly garners the attraction of a girl named Olivia. Now Duke likes Olivia, which is fine, but Viola begins having feelings for Duke. Along the way Sebastian's girlfriend comes along to complicate matters and Viola's old boyfriend pops in as well. The romantic triangle (or whatever it is) gets more and more complex and asinine as the movie goes on.
The problem here is that there is no romantic tension whatsoever so each of these relationships feels worthless. Apart from Viola none of the characters have any real personality either. They each feel like a place holder for a plot twist and apart from fitting their purpose they are very one-dimensional. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking for a believable script or Oscar-worthy performances, but the way the film is handled it almost feels like a cartoon.
For what it's worth I was mildly entertained by She's the Man. Bynes' performance is enjoyable enough to carry the film, even if her charm is more endearing than the script. This is the perfect example of a fun, cheery, and lightly humorous adaptation of Shakespeare, but it doesn't have a wide audience. Such is the plight of teenage comedies. In the end this is a movie that feels too comfortable in its own skin to be taken seriously. It's worth a rental but probably not a second viewing.
Presented with a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, She's the Man holds up to scrutiny well enough. The image was crisp and clean with colors that remained vibrant from start to finish. During the viewing a few points of edge enhancement popped up as well as some noticeable artifacts. Other than those minor details the transfer here is smooth sailing.
As far as the audio is concerned for She's the Man the selections here include 2.0 English and Spanish as well as 5.1 English and French. The stereo track is obviously the weaker of the bunch but the 5.1 selection didn't really go out of its way to impress me. The range on the soundstage is limited to mainly music and sound effects so just about all of the dialogue comes from the front channel. The quality of the audio is fine with no drop out or distortion to speak of. English subtitles are included on the disc as well.
Surprisingly there is a decent selection of supplemental content gathered onto this disc. Sure there are previews and trailers, but a gag reel, music video, and selection of photos from production to publicity are also included. A mediocre collection of deleted scenes that lasts over ten minutes is packed onto the disc as well as a four minute feature detailing the inspiration from Shakespeare.
"The Troupe" is a little featurette that's basically a piece of fluff material where everyone talks about how great everyone else is. There is a making of spot as well that gives a glimpse at the filming process with behind the scenes cuts and some commentary. The feature may not have been all that enlightening but speaking of commentaries there are two included on this DVD. Out of the two I appreciated the one that featured the cast the most since it was more entertaining than informational.
She's the Man is a decent spin on Shakespeare when you take into account the fact that it's a teen comedy. As such it doesn't really step beyond its zone of comfort or go the extra mile to prove itself as something unique. This is a safe movie with no surprises that entertains for what it is. Lovers of teen comedies will want to give it a rental but I don't see it being deep enough to warrant a second viewing.
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