She's the Man (2006)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Mar 17, 2006 (USA)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - Canada , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Many of Shakespeare's plays have been made palatable for teenage moviegoers, but She's the Man pulls off the trick more deftly than most. Andy Fickman's modern staging of Twelfth Night, involving a high school girl who wants to play on the boys' soccer team, has plenty of moves thanks to the fleet footing of actress Amanda Bynes. Known from an early age for her sharp comic timing, Bynes puts her elastic face and smart instincts to work playing both Viola and her twin brother Sebastian, whose identity she assumes to try out for the team. (In a true homage, She's the Man uses the original character names from the play, even providing Viola's love interest with the unlikely given name of Duke Orsino.) Bynes plays a couple moments as Sebastian a bit broadly, but that's true to the tone of one of the Bard's most whimsical and slapstick comedies. The cast is speckled with fine comic actors (David Cross, Julie Hagerty) and capable straight men to balance things out (Channing Tatum as the aforementioned Duke), and the script is notable for always remaining sweet, in turn sidestepping the potential for homophobia that's built into the text. In the real world, Viola's barely concealed love for Duke, when she's in the guise of Sebastian, might cause a square-jawed jock like Duke to resort to some hurtful epithets. But not here. In fact, She's the Man would surely not work so well if it succumbed to any kind of modern-day cynicism. By retaining a pure affection for the screwball implausibility of Twelfth Night, it excels. In a sure sign that the play's usage was no mere marketing gimmick, producer-screenwriter Ewen Leslie would later reassert his love for Twelfth Night, naming a pair of canines Viola and Sebastian in Hotel for Dogs.