I've often thought Amanda Bynes was one of the more promising young comedic actors out there. The actress is certainly willing to throw herself into a bit and often displays fine timing and delivery in efforts like the recently concluded sitcom, "What I Like About You." I've always thought that Bynes could be a bigger name if the right material came along. "She's the Man" is not that material.
An "update" of Shakespeare's "Twelth Night", "Man" stars Amanda Bynes as Viola, a high schooler who gets upset when the school ends the girls' soccer team and even more upset when her boyfriend (who's on the male team) won't stand behind her when she tries to fight the decision. Without a soccer team to join, Viola decides to impersonate her brother (who's running off to London with his band) and join the soccer team at the other school. There's plenty of holes in that idea (and, oddly enough, once she gets there, she suddenly isn't very good), but anyways, Viola rounds up her friends, who help her turn into an odd-looking boy who keeps skipping between sounding like a girl and a girl badly trying to sound like a macho guy.
The movie then sets up a series of he likes her/she likes hims and while everyone in the movie is trying to figure out who they want to be with, the audience is figuring out that, well, there's really not a whole lot going on in this movie, which has several montages to pad out the running time. Quite honestly, "She's the Man" spins her/his/it's wheels for the middle of the movie, making a lot of noise but not pulling together much in the way of forward momentum or plot. The characters are generally one-dimensional and the movie half-heartedly tries to create some romantic conflict that just doesn't click.
Bynes has moments here and she's certainly better than the material, which is like something out of a mediocre sitcom (tampons in noses are a running gag.) It's surprising how the movie really isn't able to come up with very much aside from a series of romantic entanglements that seem like ones you'd find in any teen movie. The main character is also unconvincing (and even corrects herself when she forgets she's trying to be a boy while others are around) to the point where Viola seems like she would have been caught countless times. It all wraps up with a ridiculous scene where Viola, without a second thought, flashes (we don't see anything) an entire high school soccer game (with her family in the audience, no less) to prove she's a chick.
"She's the Man" manages a few moments, but underneath the twist, there's really very little that the picture brings to the table. Bynes gives the proceedings some energy, but better direction may have allowed her to put her talents to use to make her character funnier (the character going back and forth between trying to act macho and more like herself was supposed to be funny, but the constant switching just starts to seem strange) and a bit more believable. Given that two of this film's screenwriters were behind "10 Things I Hate About You," one wonders why something a bit snappier couldn't have been pulled together with this tale.
VIDEO: "She's the Man" is presented by Dreamworks in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality was just fine, with standard sharpness and detail; the picture generally looked crisp and clear, but fine details were not clearly visible. Flaws included some slight edge enhancement and a few minor instances of pixelation. The print used appeared clean, with no marks, specks or other faults. Colors remained bright and vivid, with no smearing or other problems.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was strictly an ordinary comedy effort, with very little use for the rear speakers. Surrounds kicked in some minor reinforcement of the music, but otherwise that was about it. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, dynamic-sounding music and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: Two commentaries are included: one from Bynes, director Andy Fickerman, writer Ewan Leslie and members of the cast and another with Leslie and producer Lauren Shuler Donner.
We also get the featurettes: "Making the Man", "Inspired by Shakespeare's..." and "The Troupe", as well as a photo gallery, gag reel, music video, trailer and previews.
Final Thoughts: "She's the Man" has a few amusing moments thanks to Bynes, but the rest of the movie is largely the same old teen movie material. The DVD offers up fine audio/video quality and a surprisingly solid amount of supplemental features. Those interested would be advised to try a rental first.
The Film C-