Oh ho and oh hum, this teen comedy is, to put it bluntly, kind of a drag. Someone somewhere thought it would be a hoot to borrow a little Shakespeare — a very little, and in this case, Twelfth Night — and a lot more Just One of the Guys and have Amanda Bynes (What Every Girl Wants) masquerade as a boy at a prep school.
Oh, sure, the movies dearly love cross-dressing, though drag kings — Miriam Shor in Hedwig and the Angry Inch to one side — remain relatively rare. This movie tends to indicate why. It’s hard to carry off with any degree of believability. Dragging up the chipmunk-cheeked Bynes (who continues to distractingly resemble Linda Blair in her baby-fat stage) moves believability into the realm of science fiction.
It doesn’t help that Ms. Byne seems to have refused to have her hair cut, resulting in her own tresses being stuffed up into something that can charitably be described as a bad Beatle wig. That her impersonation of her brother, Sebastian (TV actor James Kirk), could fool anyone is inconceivable. That, late in the film, Bynes and Kirk could actually be mistaken for each other is beyond even that.
Apparently, director Andy Fickman — whose heart appears to be in the theater — was of the opinion that if everybody mugged shamelessly, it would mask this central problem. On the contrary, it makes the whole enterprise look like a very amateur high school production for all concerned. The claims that this fairly witless farce is some sort of worthy successor to Mark Waters’ Lindsay Lohan film, Mean Girls, are exaggerated, to say the least.
Such claims, however, caused me to re-watch Mean Girls to see why it works and why this new effort fails pretty dismally. She’s the Man would like to be Mean Girls, but it can’t be, because it’s too completely wrapped-up in its complicated, plot-driven farce to be bothered with characterizations. Nor is it interested in depicting any kind of high school reality or the problems of being an adolescent.
Fickman’s film is filled instead with bogus teen-speak, smothered in a cutesy score and decked out with generic pop songs that have little relation to the plot. It’s mostly obvious jokes on the topic of nearly being outed as a woman, with the odd bout of — albeit unnamed — homosexual panic tossed in for good measure. Indeed, the movie doesn’t seem to recognize the existence of homosexuality. When Bynes confesses her love for sensitive, but dumb, jock Duke Orsino (Channing Tatum, Supercross), his sole assessment is that the idea is “twisted.” Hell, the 1930 musical Whoopee! was bolder in this regard when a dragged-up Ethel Shutta kissed Eddie Cantor and he responded with, “Say, what kind of a cowboy are you, anyway?”
She’s the Man is all pretty shallow and tiresome and not very funny. In the end, it’s likely harmless, but I offer no guarantees on that point. Rated PG-13 for some sexual material.
— reviewed by Ken Hanke