Directed by Andy Fickman, starring Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Vinnie Jones, Robert Hoffman, David Cross and James Kirk.
America. It's a strange, back-to-front place where the boys play lacrosse and the girls play soccer. Even so, Viola Hawkins (Bynes) can't get a game because the girls' team at her high school has been cut and the boys' soccer team, which includes her boyfriend, won't let her play with them.
So, when her brother Sebastian (Kirk) runs off to follow his dream of being a rock'n'roll star, she decides to take his place at his all-male boarding school to follow her dream.
'She's the Man' is based on William Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night'. Indeed, Hollywood teen movies drawn from Shakespeare's works are rapidly developing into a genre all their own. Thus, any talk of the originality of this film is somewhat redundant (especially since Shakespeare himself was not at all shy about 'borrowing' ideas from other playwrights).
'She's the Man' is good, clean, wholesome fun and will certainly appeal to its target audience. But older viewers, especially those who were irresistibly drawn to the cringe-heavy growing pains-based humour of, say, 'The Wonder Years', will also find something to enjoy.
Bynes carries the film comfortably, displaying a promising talent for comedy, even if her attempt at portraying a man sometimes sounds a little like a drunk Elvis Presley impersonator.
Vinnie Jones, as the terrifying Coach Dinklage, could perhaps have been given more screen-time. He is, though, given the best line in the film, threatening a rival coach by telling him that, "We. Don't. Discriminate. Based. On. Gender." in his best Vinnie Jones snarl, while punctuating each word with vicious prods into the rival coach's chest. David Cross is similarly underused as the batty Principal Gold, but when he is on screen he is satisfyingly zany.
The only other lesson to learn from the film is that soccer (whether you call it football or 'sawker') is still not exciting enough for the Americans. In a film in which a large proportion of the characters are obsessed by the sport, there are very few scenes in which the game is actually played (compared to any other Hollywood sport film) and - in those scenes in which the game actually is played - it seems like the players have anti-gravity boots and can propel balls at approximately a million miles an hour. It makes the Liverpool's Champions League final victory look like the All-Priests Over-75 Five-A-Side Final from 'Father Ted'.
So, if the story is familiar, it's forgivable. If the characters are little more than one-dimensional caricatures (Viola aside) it certainly doesn't damage the movie. And if you've seen it all before, well, who says you can't laugh as much the second (or third) time around?
Barry J Whyte