Bend it like Bynes
What is it with teen movies and The Bard, is it some sort of grand plan to make the works of Shakespeare more interesting for younger audiences who find the thought of wading through one of his stories a bit dull and daunting. Anyway there have been a few over the years and one of them is "She's the Man" which takes "Twelfth Night" and gives it a teen movie makeover or at least uses a few of the ideas and names to create a teen romantic comedy. It's by no means in the same league as say "10 Things I Hate About You" when it comes to updating a Shakespeare tale but "She's the Man" is strangely entertaining even if it is at times also annoying as hell as we have football mad Viola masquerading as her twin brother just so that she can play football and prove a point to all those who think girls can't play football. Although watching Amanda Bynes kick a ball and you may still question whether girls can play football.
When the girls football team gets cut from her school, Viola (Amanda Bynes - What a Girl Wants) decides to take advantage of her twin brother Sebastian (James Kirk) heading over to London for a couple weeks to masquerade as him at his school and get into their football team. But if pretending to be a boy isn't confusing enough matters get worse when a love triangle forms as Viola finds herself falling for her room mate Duke (Channing Tatum - Coach Carter), whilst he in fact has a thing for Olivia (Laura Ramsey) but sadly she has fallen for Sebastian unaware that he is in fact Viola. And when the real Sebastian comes back from London early matters can only get worse for Viola.
To be honest "She's the Man" is your basic romantic confusion movie where you have this rather strange love triangle thanks to a girl pretending to be a boy. The whole idea isn't original and so after the set up of the Cornwall Girl's Football team, sorry have to say football because soccer is just wrong, being cut and Viola deciding to masquerade as her twin Sebastian you know what will happen. So we have Viola as Sebastian falling for her room mate Duke, we have Duke who fancies Olivia and you guessed it Olivia fancying Sebastian, well Viola dressed as Sebastian. It builds on it with the real Sebastian showing up after two weeks in London and also already having a domineering girlfriend Monique. But to put it simply it is all about the romantic confusion which plays out exactly as you would expect with the fairytale ending which any teen rom com demands.
Now to be honest all of this romantic confusion is quite good fun even thought it is obvious but it is also annoyingly stupid on so many levels. Maybe it was intentional to play it so over the top but when we first see Viola pretending to be a bloke she comes across as the chubby faced sort of kid who in real life would get bullied and their head put down a toilet. So the fact that Duke and his jock friends accept him let alone put up with him is just painfully wrong. And with Viola having to look like a bloke we have the equally painful montage of her imitating men and trying on wigs and moustaches.
None of which compares to the actual football side of "She's the Man" which is so over the top that it literally hurts to watch, especially when you have a goalie who does a back flip of a goal post. Maybe I am being a bit harsh as this is of course a teenage rom-com where being funny matters but there is a point where trying to be funny becomes painful and sadly "She's the Man" goes past that point on a few too many occasions.
Despite this annoyance it has to be said that Amanda Bynes is very likeable be it being Viola or the incredibly false looking Sebastian. She has that fresh face teen appeal and works well with Channing Tatum who seems to only have been cast to look fit and be a bit sensitive. They're fun adequate performances from Bynes and Tatum and to be honest all the cast even Vinnie Jones who is amusingly cast as the football coach are the same. In fact so much so that after a while about the only thing you will remember about "She's the Man" is the scene where Viola lifts her top to show her breasts to prove she is a girl, well that and maybe a joke surrounding the use of tampons to stop nose bleeds.
What this all boils down to is that "She's the Man" is entertaining if not at all subtle when it tries to be funny. And that is the major gripe as whilst I accept that this is a movie where you must suspend disbelief it goes too far in trying to be funny and ends up frequently being incredibly painful, no more so than whenever it comes to watching Amanda Bynes play football who when running with her long hair down looks like a relative of cousin Itt from The Addams Family.