Amanda is A Man, Duh!

Guilty pleasure alert!

It’s surprising that “She’s the Man” is only masquerading as a cheesy for-teens-only flick. Once it disrobes (yeah okay – bad choice of word – but you get the idea), it’s actually a very good show. If you don’t mind, I’d like to focus on its two pleasing assets: Amanda Bynes and the inspired screenplay.

“She’s the Man” is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night.” So automatically, with the genius Shakespeare as its sturdy foundation, the film is already a cut above average. Amanda Bynes plays Viola, a competitive soccer athlete who thinks she’s good enough to play with the boys. When her school cuts the girl’s soccer team, she goes to another school and pretends to be her twin bro Sebastian (who temporarily leaves for London). There, she can prove her playing skills against the opposite sex. But complications arise when she falls in love with Duke (Channing Tatum), her hunky roomie. Oh boy – I mean – Oh girl!

I haven’t seen or read “Twelfth Night” so I have no idea of what (butchering?) modifications have been made. But the twists and turns are unmistakably Shakespearean. It is a hoot when Viola (posing as Sebastian) finds herself in a squarely-shaped love triangle. I say squarely-shaped, since it has four characters when there are only three people involved. Viola likes Duke, who likes a girl named Olivia, who likes Sebastian (which is actually Viola). Such awkward love connections are fortunately juggled with awkward humor and giddy aggravation.

At the center of this chaotic fun is the winning performance of Amanda Bynes. She totally suckers you into the movie, demonstrating comedic skills unmatched by any of her peers. America, looking for the next big talent? She’s it and the girl got some balls to prove it. Another actor to watch is Channing Tatum, who plays a stereotypical jock, but manages to come off as a relatable human with insecurities. And while Bynes is talented in her masquerade, it is Tatum who completes the illusion by playing Duke with a straight face. It’s a tough trick considering Bynes is a weird-looking “man.” And being one of the few and heartbroken fans of the cult comedy “Arrested Development,” I had a blast seeing David Cross (the “analrapist” Tobias – yeah, inside joke! But you’d be smiling if you get it) as the quirky but creepy principal.

Of course, “She’s the Man,” like many teen movies, has its own blemishes to deal with. You might not buy not into the whole charade and roll your eyes at the way Viola escapes the danger of being found out. But so what? People who like this film didn’t see it for its portrayal of the real world. And yes, the ending is sort of prolonged and predictable. But really, endings are really overrated. Give me movies that knows how to develop its plot and involve its audience anytime. “She’s the Man” scores a goal and if you disagree, I’m prepared for your head-butt.

Grade: A-

Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Vinnie Jones, David Cross, Julie Hagerty, Robert Hoffman, and Alex Breckenridge
Inspired by “Twelfth Night” by
some dude named William Shakespeare
Screenplay by
Ewan Leslie, Jack Leslie,
Karen McCullah Lutz, and Kirsten Smith
Directed by
Andy Fickman
Rated PG-13 for some sexual material