Surprises are in short supply in the comedy "It's a Boy Girl Thing." A body-swapping farce with a heart of gold, the picture is as woefully predictable and embarrassingly one-note as a motion picture could possibly get, trying to entertain the audience with comedy maneuvers encrusted with cobwebs, and sold by a filmmaker absent even the slightest hint of a personality.
Bookish overachiever Nell (Samaire Armstrong, "Stay Alive") is waiting for her chance to attend an Ivy League college. Football stud Woody (Kevin Zegers, "Transamerica") is hoping his athletic talents will keep him out of a future of humiliating retail work. High school classmates and neighbors, Nell and Woody hate each other, and that loathing triggers a body-switching curse from an Aztec statute while on a field trip. Now trying to live their lives and achieve their collegiate dreams while trapped in unfamiliar skin, the unfriendly duo start to soften, developing feelings for each other while hunting for a way to break the curse.
One might think the potential for a gender-swapping comedy would open up a limitless world of comedic ideas. Handed to director Nick Hurran ("Little Black Book," "Undertaking Betty"), and "Thing" dies on contact; it's a laborious comedy that doesn't bother with creativity, preferring to hide behind giant walls of formula to present one of the laziest movies I've seen in a long time. Hurran is a clueless filmmaker and "Thing" never rises above eye-rolling levels of inspiration. Even for harmless, fruitless, diversionary drivel, it's a total bore.
Hurran and screenwriter Geoff Deane ("Kinky Boots") aren't chasing down an edgy, gut-busting comedy here. They want something easily digestible to appeal to romantic comedy audiences who don't have the Netflix confidence to pick a better film for themselves. Hurran dutifully captures the heights of Deane's script: the complication of morning boners, vomit and large mole gags, Brazilian waxing, and the rear-nudity adventures of horny teenagers. Nell and Woody's new body odysseys are handled with sitcom-like precision instead of exploring the unnerving realities of life inside the opposite sex. I don't mind a bawdy take on genital discovery, but "Thing" is a witless, moronic production that hasn't a clue how to harvest genuine laughs from a softball premise such as this.
At least the cast shows a little more gusto. Armstrong and Zegers are attractive actors, and while they look about 15 years older than the teenagers they're supposed to be playing, the duo charge up the film with pleasingly hyperactive performances. Also fun is Sharon Osbourne in a small role as Woody's working-class mother. You know a film is lacking any convincing focal points when Sharon Osbourne is the most compelling human element onscreen.
Presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1 aspect ratio), "Thing" suffers from some uncomfortable fleshtones, which read too pink against the near colorless backgrounds of the uninspired photography. Detail is fine and black levels are solid throughout.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix is far more intricate than the rest of this lousy film lets on, with liberal use of surrounds during soundtrack cuts and special effect sequences. The channels are separated satisfyingly, and dialogue is presented with ideal clarity.
"The Making of 'It's A Boy Girl Thing'" (6:57) is standard-issue EPK filler, only on this DVD, the names of the interviewees are not shared with the viewer. Outside of producer Elton John and the cast, I have no idea who these people are. Granted, they have nothing of interest or originality to share, but some name tags would've been a thoughtful touch.
"Interview with Samaire Armstrong" (6:56) is raw footage from the EPK interview session.
"Interview with Kevin Zegers" (7:02) is raw footage from the EPK interview session.
"Are You More Boy or Girl?" is a comedic trivia game created to help the viewer decide their gender preference.
"History of the Statue" is a text-based informational piece on Tezcatlipoca, the mysterious Aztec statue that pushes the plot into motion.
A theatrical trailer for "Thing" is included on this DVD.
In keeping with the overall lust for clichés, "Thing" not only concludes with a "big game" football scenario, but a homecoming dance as well. Compound that with a laughable third-act arc that turns the material from a slapstick comedy to an endearing romance, and there's little doubt that "It's a Boy Girl Thing" was assembled by someone who was obviously blindfolded and possibly drugged.
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